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Rotational symmetry breaking in the hidden-order phase of URu$$_2$$Si$$_2$$

Okazaki, Ryuji*; Shibauchi, Takasada*; Shi, H. J.*; Haga, Yoshinori; Matsuda, Tatsuma; Yamamoto, Etsuji; Onuki, Yoshichika; Ikeda, Hiroaki*; Matsuda, Yuji*

The nature of the broken symmetry in the so-called "hidden order" phase transition in the heavyfermion compound URu$$_2$$Si$$_2$$ has posed a long-standing mystery. We report the emergence of an in-plane anisotropy of the magnetic susceptibility below the transition temperature, which breaks the four-fold rotational symmetry of the tetragonal URu$$_2$$Si$$_2$$. Our findings suggest that the hidden order phase is an electronic "nematic" phase, a translationally invariant metallic phase with spontaneous breaking of rotational symmetry.

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