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Quantum Order-by-Disorder Near Criticality and the Secret of the Partially Ordered Phase of MnSi

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The vicinity of quantum phase transitions has proven fertile ground in the search for new quantum phases. We propose a physically motivated and unifying description of phase reconstruction near metallic quantum-critical points using the idea of quantum order by disorder. Certain deformations of the Fermi surface associated with the onset of competing order enhance the phase space available for low-energy, particle-hole fluctuations and self-consistently lower the free energy. Applying the notion of quantum order by disorder to the itinerant helimagnet MnSi, we show that, near the quantum critical point, fluctuations lead to an increase of the spiral ordering wave vector and a reorientation away from the lattice-favored directions. The magnetic ordering pattern in this fluctuation-driven phase is found to be in excellent agreement with the neutron scattering data in the partially ordered phase of MnSi.

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