A mechanism for the strange metal phase in rare-earth intermetallic compounds

Jiangfan Wang, Yung Yeh Chang, Chung Hou Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A major mystery in strongly interacting quantum systems is the microscopic origin of the "strange metal" phenomenology, with unconventionalmetallic behavior that defies Landau's Fermi liquid framework for ordinary metals. This state is found across a wide range of quantum materials, notably in rare-earth intermetallic compounds at finite temperatures (T) near a magnetic quantum phase transition, and shows a quasilinear-in-temperature resistivity and a logarithmic-in-temperature specific heat coefficient. Recently, an even more enigmatic behavior pointing toward a stable strange metal ground state was observed in CePd1-xNixAl, a geometrically frustrated Kondo lattice compound. Here, we propose a mechanism for such phenomena driven by the interplay of the gapless fermionic short-ranged antiferromagnetic spin correlations (spinons) and critical bosonic charge (holons) fluctuations near a Kondo breakdown quantum phase transition. Within a dynamical large-N approach to the Kondo-Heisenberg lattice model, the strange metal phase is realized in transport and thermodynamical quantities. It is manifested as a fluctuating Kondo-scattering-stabilized critical (gapless) fermionic spin-liquid metal. It shows ω/T scaling in dynamical electron scattering rate, a signature of quantum criticality. Our results offer a qualitative understanding of the CePd1-xNixAl compound and suggest a possibility of realizing the quantum critical strange metal phase in correlated electron systems in general.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2116980119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume119
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Heavy fermions
  • Quantum criticality
  • Strange metal

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