Electronic instabilities in transition metal compounds often spontaneously form orbital molecules, which consist of orbital-coupled metal ions at low temperature. Recent local structural studies utilizing the pair distribution function revealed that preformed orbital molecules appear disordered even in the high-temperature paramagnetic phase. However, it is unclear whether preformed orbital molecules are dynamic or static. Here, we provide clear experimental evidence of the slow dynamics of disordered orbital molecules realized in the high-temperature paramagnetic phase of LiVS2, which exhibits vanadium trimerization upon cooling below 314 K. Unexpectedly, the preformed orbital molecules appear as a disordered zigzag chain that fluctuate in both time and space under electron irradiation. Our findings should advance studies on soft matter physics realized in an inorganic material due to disordered orbital molecules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics