ReportSolid-State Physics

A parity-breaking electronic nematic phase transition in the spin-orbit coupled metal Cd2Re2O7

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Science  21 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6335, pp. 295-299
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad1188

A nonlinear peek into electronic symmetry

Strong interactions among electrons in some materials can cause them to assume configurations that are less symmetric than the underlying crystal lattice. These so-called electronic nematic states usually have inversion symmetry, but theorists have predicted that in metals with strong spin-orbit coupling, the inversion symmetry can be lost. Harter et al. teased out the symmetry of the electronic order in the compound Cd2Re2O7 (see the Perspective by Dodge). They found that a known structural transition in this material is a consequence of another, previously hidden electronic order that breaks inversion symmetry.

Science, this issue p. 295; see also p. 246