Theory of the field-revealed Kitaev spin liquid Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • AbstractElementary excitations in entangled states such as quantum spin liquids may exhibit exotic statistics different from those obeyed by fundamental bosons and fermions. Non-Abelian anyons exist in a Kitaev spin liquid—the ground state of an exactly solvable model. A smoking-gun signature of these excitations, namely a half-integer quantized thermal Hall conductivity, was recently reported in α-RuCl3. While fascinating, a microscopic theory for this phenomenon remains elusive because the pure Kitaev model cannot display this effect in an intermediate magnetic field. Here we present a microscopic theory of the Kitaev spin liquid emerging between the low- and high-field states. Essential to this result is an antiferromagnetic off-diagonal symmetric interaction which allows the Kitaev spin liquid to protrude from the ferromagnetic Kitaev limit under a magnetic field. This generic model displays a strong field anisotropy, and we predict a wide spin liquid regime when the field is perpendicular to the honeycomb plane.

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publication date

  • June 6, 2019