Triangular antiferromagnetic order in the honeycomb layer lattice of \(\)
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ErCl3 crystallizes in the AlCl3-type layer structure. The crystal structure was refined in the paramagnetic state by powder neutron diffraction. The monoclinic lattice parameters at 1.5 K are a = 6.8040(3)Å, b = 11.7456(5)Å, c = 6.3187(3)Å and \(\). The space group is C2/m. Short-range, predominantly in-plane, magnetic ordering occurs above 350 mK up to several Kelvin. Below \(\) mK a three-dimensional antiferromagnetic order with a propagation vector of \(\) sets in. The magnetic structure of ErCl3 was determined by powder and single-crystal neutron diffraction at temperatures down to 45 mK. The Er3+ ions are located on two-dimensional honeycomb layers in the a–b plane. There are two antiferromagnetically coupled \(\) triangular sublattices which form right- and left-handed helices along the c-axis. The magnetic moments are oriented in the a–b plane and amount to 3.3(1) \(\) at saturation. From the temperature dependence of the integrated neutron magnetic peak intensity a critical exponent \(\)(2) was derived for the magnetic phase transition.
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