Kondo lattice materials, where localized magnetic moments couple to itinerant electrons, provide a very rich backdrop for strong electron correlations. They are known to realize many exotic phenomena, with a dramatic example being recent observations of quantum oscillations and metallic thermal conduction in insulators, implying the emergence of enigmatic charge-neutral fermions. Here, we show that thermal conductivity and specific heat measurements in insulating YbIr3Si7 reveal emergent neutral excitations, whose properties are sensitively changed by a field-driven transition between two antiferromagnetic phases. In the low-field phase, a significant violation of the Wiedemann-Franz law demonstrates that YbIr3Si7 is a charge insulator but a thermal metal. In the high-field phase, thermal conductivity exhibits a sharp drop below 300 mK, indicating a transition from a thermal metal into an insulator/semimetal driven by the magnetic transition. These results suggest that spin degrees of freedom directly couple to the neutral fermions, whose emergent Fermi surface undergoes a field-driven instability at low temperatures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy