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  1. Fascinating new phases of matter can emerge from strong electron interactions in solids. In recent years, a new exotic class of many-body phases, described by generalized electromagnetism of symmetric rank-2 electric and magnetic fields and immobile charge excitations dubbed fractons, has attracted wide attention. Beside interesting properties in their own right, they are also closely related to gapped fracton quantum orders, new phases of dipole-coversing systems, quantum information, and quantum gravity. However, experimental realization of the rank-2 U(1) gauge theory is still absent, and even known practical experimental routes are scarce. In this work we propose a scheme of coupledmore »optical phonons and nematics as well as several of its concrete experimental constructions. They can realize the electrostatics sector of the rank-2 U(1) gauge theory. A great advantage of our scheme is that it requires only basic ingredients of phonon and nematic physics, hence can be applied to a wide range of nematic matters from liquid crystals to electron orbitals. We expect this work will provide crucial guidance for the realization of rank-2 U(1) and fracton states of matter on a variety of platforms.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. The search for quantum spin liquids – topological magnets with fractionalized excitations – has been a central theme in condensed matter and materials physics. Despite numerous theoretical proposals, connecting experiment with detailed theory exhibiting a robust quantum spin liquid has remained a central challenge. Here, focusing on the strongly spin-orbit coupled effective S=1/2 pyrochlore magnet Ce2Zr2O7, we analyse recent thermodynamic and neutron scattering experiments, to identify a microscopic effective Hamiltonian through a combination of finite temperature Lanczos, Monte Carlo and analytical spin dynamics calculations. Its parameter values suggest the existence of an exotic phase, a pi-flux U(1) quantum spin liquid.more »Intriguingly, the octupolar nature of the moments makes them less prone to be affected by magnetic disorder, while also hiding some otherwise characteristic signatures from neutrons, making this spin liquid arguably more stable than its more conventional counterparts.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 2, 2023