Spin-orbital frustrations and anomalous metallic state in iron-pnictide superconductors

Frank Kruger, S. Kumar, Jan Zaanen, J. van den Brink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

307 Citations (Scopus)
100 Downloads (Pure)


We develop an understanding of the anomalous metal state of the parent compounds of recently discovered iron-based superconductors starting from a strong-coupling viewpoint, including orbital degrees of freedom. On the basis of an intermediate-spin (S=1) state for the Fe2+ ions, we derive a Kugel-Khomskii spin-orbital Hamiltonian for the active t2g orbitals. It turns out to be a highly complex model with frustrated spin and orbital interactions. We compute its classical phase diagrams and provide an understanding for the stability of the various phases by investigating its spin-only and orbital-only limits. The experimentally observed spin-stripe state is found to be stable over a wide regime of physical parameters and can be accompanied by three different types of orbital orders. Of these the orbital-ferro and orbital-stripe orders are particularly interesting since they break the in-plane lattice symmetry—a robust feature of the undoped compounds. We compute the magnetic excitation spectra for the effective spin Hamiltonian, observing a strong reduction in the ordered moment, and point out that the proposed orbital ordering pattern can be measured in resonant x-ray diffraction.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)054504/1-054504/15
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical review B: Condensed matter and materials physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • IR-61379
  • METIS-256591

Cite this