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Physical Review B



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We present a theory for the nuclear spin-lattice relaxation of heavy spin-1/2 nuclei in solids, which explains within an order of magnitude the unexpectedly effective lead and thallium nuclear spin-lattice relaxation rates observed in the ionic solids lead molybdate, lead chloride, lead nitrate, thallium nitrate, thallium nitrite, and thallium perchlorate. The observed rates are proportional to the square of the temperature and are independent of magnetic field. This rules out all known mechanisms usually employed to model nuclear spin relaxation in lighter spin-1/2 nuclei. The relaxation is caused by a Raman process involving the interactions between nuclear spins and lattice vibrations via a fluctuating spin-rotation magnetic field. The model places an emphasis on the time dependence of the angular velocity of pairs of adjacent atoms rather than on their angular momentum. Thus the spin-rotation interaction is characterized not in the traditional manner by a spin-rotation constant but by a related physical parameter, the magnetorotation constant, which relates the local magnetic field generated by spin rotation to an angular velocity. Our semiclassical relaxation model involves a frequency-mode description of the spectral density that can directly be related to the mean-square amplitudes and mode densities of lattice vibrations in the Debye model.



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