Vanadium spinels (ZnV2O4, MgV2O4, and CdV2O4) exhibit a sequence of structural and magnetic phase transitions, reflecting the interplay of lattice, orbital, and spin degrees of freedom. We offer a theoretical model taking into account the relativistic spin-orbit interaction, collective Jahn-Teller effect, and spin frustration. Below the structural transition, vanadium ions exhibit ferro-orbital order and the magnet is best viewed as two sets of antiferromagnetic chains with a single-ion Ising anisotropy. Magnetic order, parametrized by two Ising variables, appears at a tetracritical point.
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