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Title: Quantum spin liquids
Spin liquids are quantum phases of matter with a variety of unusual features arising from their topological character, including “fractionalization”—elementary excitations that behave as fractions of an electron. Although there is not yet universally accepted experimental evidence that establishes that any single material has a spin liquid ground state, in the past few years a number of materials have been shown to exhibit distinctive properties that are expected of a quantum spin liquid. Here, we review theoretical and experimental progress in this area.
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Quantum spin systems such as magnetic insulators usually show magnetic order, but such classical states can give way toquantum liquids with exotic entanglementthrough two known mechanisms of frustration: geometric frustration in lattices with triangle motifs, and spin-orbit-coupling frustration in the exactly solvable quantum liquid of Kitaev’s honeycomb lattice. Here we present the experimental observation of a new kind of frustrated quantum liquid arising in an unlikely place: the magnetic insulator Ba4Ir3O10where Ir3O12trimers form an unfrustrated square lattice. The crystal structure shows no apparent spin chains. Experimentally we find a quantum liquid state persisting down to 0.2 K that is stabilizedmore »by strong antiferromagnetic interaction with Curie–Weiss temperature ranging from −766 to −169 K due to magnetic anisotropy. The anisotropy-averaged frustration parameter is 2000, seldom seen in iridates. Heat capacity and thermal conductivity are both linear at low temperatures, a familiar feature in metals but here in an insulator pointing to an exotic quantum liquid state; a mere 2% Sr substitution for Ba produces long-range order at 130 K and destroys the linear-T features. Although the Ir4+(5d5) ions in Ba4Ir3O10appear to form Ir3O12trimers of face-sharing IrO6octahedra, we propose that intra-trimer exchange is reduced and the lattice recombines into an array of coupled 1D chains with additional spins. An extreme limit of decoupled 1D chains can explain most but not all of the striking experimental observations, indicating that the inter-chain coupling plays an important role in the frustration mechanism leading to this quantum liquid.

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  5. Abstract

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