Spin-lattice order in frustrated ZnCr2O4
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Using synchrotron x-ray and neutron diffraction, we disentangle spin-lattice order in highly frustrated ZnCr2O4 where magnetic chromium ions occupy the vertices of regular tetrahedra. Upon cooling below 12.5 K the quandary of antialigning spins surrounding the triangular faces of tetrahedra is resolved by establishing weak interactions on each triangle through an intricate lattice distortion. However, the resulting spin order is not simply a Ne´el state on strong bonds, but rather a complex coplanar spin structure, indicating that antisymmetric and/or further neighbor exchange interactions also play a role as ZnCr2O4 resolves conflicting magnetic interactions.