Orbitally induced hierarchy of exchange interactions in the zigzag antiferromagnetic state of honeycomb silver delafossite Ag3Co2SbO6†
We report the revised crystal structure, static and dynamic magnetic properties of quasi-two dimensional honeycomb-lattice silver delafossite Ag3Co2SbO6. The magnetic susceptibility and specific heat data are consistent with the onset of antiferromagnetic long range order at low temperatures with Néel temperature TN ∼ 21.2 K. In addition, the magnetization curves revealed a field-induced (spin–flop type) transition below TN in moderate magnetic fields. The GGA+U calculations show the importance of the orbital degrees of freedom, which maintain a hierarchy of exchange interaction in the system. The strongest antiferromagnetic exchange coupling was found in the shortest Co–Co pairs and is due to direct and superexchange interaction between the half-filled xz + yz orbitals pointing directly to each other. The other four out of six nearest neighbor exchanges within the cobalt hexagon are suppressed, since for these bonds the active half-filled orbitals turned out to be parallel and do not overlap. The electron spin resonance (ESR) spectra reveal a broad absorption line attributed to the Co2+ ion in an octahedral coordination with an average effective g-factor g = 2.40 ± 0.05 at room temperature and show strong divergence of the ESR parameters below ∼150 K, which implies an extended region of short-range correlations. Based on the results of magnetic and thermodynamic studies in applied fields, we propose a magnetic phase diagram for the new honeycomb-lattice delafossite.