University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Wednesday, March 13th 2019
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Oleg Starykh, University of Utah
Subject: Collective modes of magnetized spin liquids

The search for the enigmatic quantum spin liquid (QSL) state has switched into high gear in recent years. Amazing experimental progress has resulted in several highly promising QSL materials such as ZnCu3(OH)6Cl2, YbMgGaO4, and NaYbO2, to list just a few. All of these quasi-two-dimensional materials are characterized by a broad continuum of spin excitations observed in neutron scattering experiments. Unfortunately many, if not all, of these QSL candidates suffer from the presence of significant substitutional disorder which often tends to strongly broaden inelastic neutron spectra and thus calls into question the QSL interpretation of the experimental data. It is therefore incumbent upon the theoretical community to identify specific experimental signatures, more detailed than a “broad continuum” arguments, that evince the unique aspects of spin liquid states of magnetic matter.

In this talk I focus is on the prominent metal-like magnetic insulators – U(1) quantum spin liquids with spinon Fermi surface – excitations of which are represented by neutral spin-1/2 fermions (spinons) and emergent gauge fields. The gauge field mediates strong interactions between spinons. We argue that the full effect of this interaction becomes apparent when the spin liquid is partially magnetized by the Zeeman magnetic field. Under this condition, the spectrum of the spin liquid acquires a new transverse collective spin-1 mode, distinct from incoherent particle-hole excitations of the spinon continuum. Despite being located outside the spinon continuum, this novel collective excitation interacts with emergent gauge fluctuations which are responsible for partially damping it.

I present a tentative theory of this collective mode, including its dispersion, lifetime and other spectral characteristics, and identify conditions needed for its experimental observation. Collective properties of Dirac spin liquids, in which spinon bands form relativistic cone dispersion, will be described as well.

Faculty Host: Andrey Chubukov

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