Fractionalized excitations in the partially magnetized spin liquid candidate YbMgGaO4.
ABSTRACT: Quantum spin liquids (QSLs) are exotic states of matter characterized by emergent gauge structures and fractionalized elementary excitations. The recently discovered triangular lattice antiferromagnet YbMgGaO4 is a promising QSL candidate, and the nature of its ground state is still under debate. Here we use neutron scattering to study the spin excitations in YbMgGaO4 under various magnetic fields. Our data reveal a dispersive spin excitation continuum with clear upper and lower excitation edges under a weak magnetic field (H?=?2.5?T). Moreover, a spectral crossing emerges at the ? point at the Zeeman-split energy. The corresponding redistribution of the spectral weight and its field-dependent evolution are consistent with the theoretical prediction based on the inter-band and intra-band spinon particle-hole excitations associated with the Zeeman-split spinon bands, implying the presence of fractionalized excitations and spinon Fermi surfaces in the partially magnetized QSL state in YbMgGaO4.
Project description:Quantum spin liquids (QSLs) are exotic phases of matter that host fractionalized excitations. It is difficult for local probes to characterize QSL, whereas quantum entanglement can serve as a powerful diagnostic tool due to its nonlocality. The kagome antiferromagnetic Heisenberg model is one of the most studied and experimentally relevant models for QSL, but its solution remains under debate. Here, we perform a numerical Aharonov-Bohm experiment on this model and uncover universal features of the entanglement entropy. By means of the density matrix renormalization group, we reveal the entanglement signatures of emergent Dirac spinons, which are the fractionalized excitations of the QSL. This scheme provides qualitative insights into the nature of kagome QSL and can be used to study other quantum states of matter. As a concrete example, we also benchmark our methods on an interacting quantum critical point between a Dirac semimetal and a charge-ordered phase.
Project description:The most fascinating feature of certain two-dimensional (2D) gapless quantum spin liquid (QSL) is that their spinon excitations behave like the fermionic carriers of a paramagnetic metal. The spinon Fermi surface is then expected to produce a linear increase of the thermal conductivity with temperature that should manifest via a residual value (?0/T) in the zero-temperature limit. However, this linear in T behavior has been reported for very few QSL candidates. Here, we studied the ultralow-temperature thermal conductivity of an effective spin-1/2 triangular QSL candidate Na2BaCo(PO4)2, which has an antiferromagnetic order at very low temperature (TN ~ 148?mK), and observed a finite ?0/T extrapolated from the data above TN. Moreover, while approaching zero temperature, it exhibits series of quantum spin state transitions with applied field along the c axis. These observations indicate that Na2BaCo(PO4)2 possibly behaves as a gapless QSL with itinerant spin excitations above TN and its strong quantum spin fluctuations persist below TN.
Project description:A quantum spin liquid (QSL) is an exotic state of matter in condensed-matter systems, where the electron spins are strongly correlated, but conventional magnetic orders are suppressed down to zero temperature because of strong quantum fluctuations. One of the most prominent features of a QSL is the presence of fractionalized spin excitations, called spinons. Despite extensive studies, the nature of the spinons is still highly controversial. Here we report magnetocaloric-effect measurements on an organic spin-1/2 triangular-lattice antiferromagnet, showing that electron spins are decoupled from a lattice in a QSL state. The decoupling phenomena support the gapless nature of spin excitations. We further find that as a magnetic field is applied away from a quantum critical point, the number of spin states that interact with lattice vibrations is strongly reduced, leading to weak spin-lattice coupling. The results are compared with a model of a strongly correlated QSL near a quantum critical point.
Project description:Strongly enhanced quantum fluctuations often lead to a rich variety of quantum-disordered states. Developing approaches to enhance quantum fluctuations may open paths to realize even more fascinating quantum states. Here, we demonstrate that a coupling of localized spins with the zero-point motion of hydrogen atoms, that is, proton fluctuations in a hydrogen-bonded organic Mott insulator provides a different class of quantum spin liquids (QSLs). We find that divergent dielectric behavior associated with the approach to hydrogen-bond order is suppressed by the quantum proton fluctuations, resulting in a quantum paraelectric (QPE) state. Furthermore, our thermal-transport measurements reveal that a QSL state with gapless spin excitations rapidly emerges upon entering the QPE state. These findings indicate that the quantum proton fluctuations give rise to a QSL-a quantum-disordered state of magnetic and electric dipoles-through the coupling between the electron and proton degrees of freedom.
Project description:One-dimensional (1D) magnetic insulators have attracted significant interest as a platform for studying quasiparticle fractionalization, quantum criticality, and emergent phenomena. The spin-1/2 Heisenberg chain with antiferromagnetic nearest neighbour interactions is an important reference system; its elementary magnetic excitations are spin-1/2 quasiparticles called spinons that are created in even numbers. However, while the excitation continuum associated with two-spinon states is routinely observed, the study of four-spinon and higher multi-spinon states is an open area of research. Here we show that four-spinon excitations can be accessed directly in Sr2CuO3 using resonant inelastic x-ray scattering (RIXS) in a region of phase space clearly separated from the two-spinon continuum. Our finding is made possible by the fundamental differences in the correlation function probed by RIXS in comparison to other probes. This advance holds promise as a tool in the search for novel quantum states and quantum spin liquids.
Project description:A recent inelastic neutron scattering experiment on the pyrochlore magnet Yb2Ti2O7 uncovers an unusual scattering continuum in the spin excitation spectrum despite the splayed ferromagnetic order in the ground state. While there exist well defined spin wave excitations at high magnetic fields, the one magnon modes and the two magnon continuum start to strongly overlap upon decreasing the field, and eventually they become the scattering continuum at zero field. Motivated by these observations, we investigate the possible emergence of a magnetically ordered ground state with fractionalized excitations in the spin model with the exchange parameters determined from two previous experiments. Using the fermionic parton mean field theory, we show that the magnetically ordered state with fractionalized excitations can arise as a stable mean field ground state in the presence of sufficiently strong quantum fluctuations. The spin excitation spectrum in such a ground state is computed and shown to have the scattering continuum. Upon increasing the field, the fractionalized magnetically ordered state is suppressed, and is eventually replaced by the conventional magnetically ordered phase at high fields, which is consistent with the experimental data. We discuss further implications of these results to the experiments and possible improvements on the theoretical analysis.
Project description:Interacting cold-atomic gases in optical lattices offer an experimental approach to outstanding problems of many body physics. One important example is the interplay of interaction and topology which promises to generate a variety of exotic phases such as the fractionalized Chern insulator or the topological Mott insulator. Both theoretically understanding these states of matter and finding suitable systems that host them have proven to be challenging problems. Here we propose a cold-atom setup where Hubbard on-site interactions give rise to spin liquid-like phases: weak and strong topological Mott insulators. They represent the celebrated paradigm of an interacting and topological quantum state with fractionalized spinon excitations that inherit the topology of the non-interacting system. Our proposal shall help to pave the way for a controlled experimental investigation of this exotic state of matter in optical lattices. Furthermore, it allows for the investigation of a dimensional crossover from a two-dimensional quantum spin Hall insulating phase to a three-dimensional strong topological insulator by tuning the hopping between the layers.
Project description:A spin-1/2 triangular-lattice Heisenberg antiferromagnet (TLHAF) is a prototypical frustrated quantum magnet, which exhibits remarkable quantum many-body effects that arise from the synergy between spin frustration and quantum fluctuation. The ground-state properties of a spin-1/2 TLHAF are theoretically well understood. However, the theoretical consensus regarding the magnetic excitations is limited. The experimental study of the magnetic excitations in spin-1/2 TLHAFs has also been limited. Here we show the structure of magnetic excitations in the spin-1/2 TLHAF Ba3CoSb2O9 investigated by inelastic neutron scattering. Significantly different from theoretical expectations, the excitation spectrum has a three-stage energy structure. The lowest-energy first stage is composed of dispersion branches of single-magnon excitations. The second and third stages are dispersive continua accompanied by a columnar continuum extending above 10?meV, which is six times larger than the exchange interaction J?=?1.67?meV. Our results indicate the shortcomings of the current theoretical framework.Two-dimensional frustrated magnets are heavily studied because theories predict that quantum effects may lead to the emergence of fractionalized excitations. Ito et al. use inelastic neutron scattering to show that the excitation spectrum of Ba3CoSb2O9 disagrees with current theoretical expectations.
Project description:Quantum spin liquids (QSLs) have been at the forefront of correlated electron research ever since their proposal in 1973, and the realization that they belong to the broader class of intrinsic topological orders. According to received wisdom, QSLs can arise in frustrated magnets with low spin S, where strong quantum fluctuations act to destabilize conventional, magnetically ordered states. Here, we present a Z2 QSL ground state that appears already in the semiclassical, large-S limit. This state has both topological and symmetry-related ground-state degeneracy, and two types of gaps, a "magnetic flux" gap that scales linearly with S and an "electric charge" gap that drops exponentially in S. The magnet is the spin-S version of the spin-1/2 Kitaev honeycomb model, which has been the subject of intense studies in correlated electron systems with strong spin-orbit coupling, and in optical lattice realizations with ultracold atoms.
Project description:The fractionalization of elementary excitations in quantum spin systems is a central theme in current condensed matter physics. The Kitaev honeycomb spin model provides a prominent example of exotic fractionalized quasiparticles, composed of itinerant Majorana fermions and gapped gauge fluxes. However, identification of the Majorana fermions in a three-dimensional honeycomb lattice remains elusive. Here we report spectroscopic signatures of fractional excitations in the harmonic-honeycomb iridates ?- and ?-Li2IrO3. Using polarization-resolved Raman spectroscopy, we find that the dynamical Raman response of ?- and ?-Li2IrO3 features a broad scattering continuum with distinct polarization and composition dependence. The temperature dependence of the Raman spectral weight is dominated by the thermal damping of fermionic excitations. These results suggest the emergence of Majorana fermions from spin fractionalization in a three-dimensional Kitaev-Heisenberg system.