Helical scattering signatures of strain and electronic textures in YbFe2O4

We report a form of incommensurate charge density wave localisation in the insulating ternary oxide YbFe2O4. This state has a unique signature in the form of tightly wound ‘helices’ of scattering in reciprocal space. Below T ≈ 320 K the helices break up into Bragg peaks with intensities modelled quantitatively by a helical incommensurate strain pattern. The persistence of such a coherent structure above T is at odds with the familiar concept of a transition driven by 3-dimensional fluctuations of the order parameter, and may indicate a more subtle form of topological order.

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Alexander J. Hearmon, Dharmalingam Prabhakaran, Harriott Nowell, Federica Fabrizi, Matthias J. Gutmann, and Paolo G. Radaelli, submitted to Phys. Rev. Lett.