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Evolution of spin phonon coupling by substituting Cd for Zn in the frustrated spinel ZnCr2
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Frustration makes a tremendous amount of degenerate ground states which provides no energy scale of its own. Any perturbation has to be considered strong and fascinating phenomena may be emergent upon relieving of frustration. Here, we report the evolution of spin phonon coupling in the frustrated spinel system Zn1−xCdxCr2Se4 (0 ≤ x ≤ 1) from magnetization, specific heat and thermal conductivity. Our results give clear evidences that the spin-orientated structural transitions decay rapidly as x going from 0 to 0.4 while the correlations between spin and lattice degrees of freedom for 0.6 ≤ x ≤ 1 become weak and can be explained in terms of the traditional magnetostriction effect. In addition, for 0 ≤ x ≤ 0.4 thermal carriers reveal strong scattering from spin fluctuations in the vicinity of TN owing to strong frustration, in stark contrast with those for 0.6 ≤ x ≤ 1 where traditional phonon-like heat conduction behaviors are observed. Moreover, it is shown that a moderate applied magnetic field can drive readily the fluctuations-scattered thermal conductivity toward traditional phonon-like one as observed in CdCr2Se4, reaching about 30% for x = 0.4 at 25 K in 1 T. Such strong field-sensitive effects may introduce new promising functionalities for potential applications.
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