YbAl3C3 has been investigated in detail, which was previously reported to show an antiferroquadrupolar (AFQ) ordering at an extremely high ordering temperature of 80 K. The present study has revealed that the specific heat, magnetic susceptibility, and electrical resistivity of the single crystalline YbAl3C3 clearly exhibit the characteristic features of the first order transition around 77 K. In addition, we have discovered that LuAl3C3 also exhibits a sharp peak in the specific heat around 110 K, which most likely corresponds to the 77K transition of YbAl3C3. Therefore, the 77K transition of YbAl3C3 is considered to be irrelevant to the nature of the 4f-electrons such as the AFQ ordering but is ascribed to a structural one. Low temperature physical properties of YbAl3C3 below 77K is indicative of a spin gap and a nonmagnetic ground state. A new model is proposed, in which the adjacent spins on the triangular lattice of Yb 3+ ions are antiferromagnetically coupled to form a dimer by the structural transition at 77 K. The spin gap behavior at low temperatures can be well explained by an isolated dimer model with a singlet-triplet energy gap of about 15 K.
ASJC Scopus subject areas