Glassy Spin Dynamics in Geometrically Frustrated Buckled Colloidal Crystals

D Zhou and F Wang and B Li and XJ Lou and YL Han, PHYSICAL REVIEW X, 7, 021030 (2017).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.7.021030

Geometrical frustration arises when the lattice geometry prevents local interaction energies from minimizing simultaneously. Whether and how geometrically frustrated spins or charges in clean crystals exhibit glassy dynamics remain elusive due to the lack of measurements on microscopic dynamics. Here, we employ buckled monolayer colloidal crystals to mimic frustrated antiferromagnetic Ising spins on triangular lattices and measure single-spin dynamics using video microscopy. Both attractive and repulsive colloidal crystals buckled into zigzag stripes with glassy dynamics at low effective temperatures in experiment and simulation. The simple local spin configurations enable uncovering correlations among structure, dynamics, and soft vibrational modes. Machine learning analysis further reveals facilitated dynamics to be an important mechanism of structural relaxation. Moreover, our simulation reveals a similar structure and dynamics in lattice Coulomb liquids. Hence, spin-lattice coupling and long-range interaction can similarly lift degeneracy, induce a rugged landscape, and, thus, produce glassy dynamics.

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