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  1. Abstract

    Understanding the interplay between the inherent disorder and the correlated fluctuating-spin ground state is a key element in the search for quantum spin liquids. H3LiIr2O6is considered to be a spin liquid that is proximate to the Kitaev-limit quantum spin liquid. Its ground state shows no magnetic order or spin freezing as expected for the spin liquid state. However, hydrogen zero-point motion and stacking faults are known to be present. The resulting bond disorder has been invoked to explain the existence of unexpected low-energy spin excitations, although data interpretation remains challenging. Here, we use resonant X-ray spectroscopies to map the collective excitations in H3LiIr2O6and characterize its magnetic state. In the low-temperature correlated state, we reveal a broad bandwidth of magnetic excitations. The central energy and the high-energy tail of the continuum are consistent with expectations for dominant ferromagnetic Kitaev interactions between dynamically fluctuating spins. Furthermore, the absence of a momentum dependence to these excitations are consistent with disorder-induced broken translational invariance. Our low-energy data and the energy and width of the crystal field excitations support an interpretation of H3LiIr2O6as a disordered topological spin liquid in close proximity to bond-disordered versions of the Kitaev quantum spin liquid.