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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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  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 stabilized 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 1Dmore »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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  2. Quantum spin liquids, exotic phases of matter with topological order, have been a major focus in physics for the past several decades. Such phases feature long-range quantum entanglement that can potentially be exploited to realize robust quantum computation. We used a 219-atom programmable quantum simulator to probe quantum spin liquid states. In our approach, arrays of atoms were placed on the links of a kagome lattice, and evolution under Rydberg blockade created frustrated quantum states with no local order. The onset of a quantum spin liquid phase of the paradigmatic toric code type was detected by using topological string operators that provide direct signatures of topological order and quantum correlations. Our observations enable the controlled experimental exploration of topological matter and protected quantum information processing.
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  4. Drouhin, Henri-Jean M. ; Wegrowe, Jean-Eric ; Razeghi, Manijeh (Ed.)
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  5. Electronic spins can form long-range entangled phases of condensed matter named quantum spin liquids. Their existence is conceptualized in models of two- or three-dimensional frustrated magnets that evade symmetry-breaking order down to zero temperature. Quantum spin ice (QSI) is a theoretically well-established example described by an emergent quantum electrodynamics, with excitations behaving like photon and matter quasiparticles. The latter are fractionally charged and equivalent to the `spinons' emerging from coherent phases of singlets in one dimension, where clear experimental proofs of fractionalization exist. However, in frustrated magnets it remains difficult to establish consensual evidence for quantum spin liquid ground states and their fractional excitations. Here, we use backscattering neutron spectroscopy to achieve extremely high resolution of the time-dependent magnetic response of the candidate QSI material Ce2Sn2O7. We find a gapped spectrum featuring a threshold and peaks that match theories for pair production and propagation of fractional matter excitations (spinons) strongly coupled to a background gauge field. The observed peaks provide evidence for a QSI through spectroscopic signatures of space-time symmetry fractionalization, while the threshold behavior corroborates the regime of strong light-matter interaction predicted for the emergent universe in a QSI.