Cascades of phase transitions in spiral magnets caused by dipolar forces
AbstractWe present a mean-field theory describing the influence of long-range dipolar forces on the temperature transition from the paramagnetic to ordered phases in frustrated Heisenberg spiral magnets. It is shown that the dipolar interaction produces a cascade of first- and second-order phase transitions between the paramagnetic and the spiral states upon temperature decreasing. Depending on system parameters, the following intermediate phases can arise: an incommensurate and a commensurate sinusoidally modulated state, spiral phases in which perpendicular spin components have different amplitudes and are modulated with the same and with different wave vectors. We distinguish six possible sequences of phase transitions upon temperature decreasing at least four of which were observed before experimentally in specific compounds. It is found that the action of dipolar forces cannot always be modeled even qualitatively by small one-ion anisotropic spin interactions. We demonstrate that the dipolar interaction is responsible for successive phase transitions in the triangular-lattice multiferroic MnI2: Almost all available experimental findings are described quantitatively within the mean-field theory by taking into account the exchange, the dipolar and small symmetry-allowed anisotropic spin interactions.