Direct observation of spin excitation anisotropy in the paramagnetic orthorhombic state of BaFe2−xNixAs2
We use transport and inelastic neutron-scattering measurements to investigate single crystals of iron pnictide BaFe2−xNixAs2(x=0,0.03), which exhibit a tetragonal-to-orthorhombic structural transition at Ts and stripe antiferromagnetic order at TN(Ts≥TN). Using a tunable uniaxial pressure device, we detwin the crystals and study their transport and spin excitation properties at antiferromagnetic wave-vector S1(1,0) and its 90∘ rotated wave-vector S2(0,1) under different pressure conditions. We find that uniaxial pressure necessary to detwin and maintain the single domain orthorhombic antiferromagnetic phase of BaFe2−xNixAs2 induces resistivity and spin excitation anisotropy at temperatures above zero pressure Ts. In the uniaxial pressure-free detwinned sample, spin excitation anisotropy between S1(1,0) and S2(0,1) first appears in the paramagnetic orthorhombic phase below Ts. These results are consistent with predictions of spin nematic theory, suggesting the absence of structural or nematic phase transition above Ts in iron pnictides.