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Spiral order in the honeycomb iridate Li2IrO3

J. Reuther, R. Thomale, and S. Rachel – 2014

Spin liquids represent exotic types of quantum matter that evade conventional symmetry-breaking order even at zero temperature. Exhaustive classifications of spin liquids have been carried out in several systems, particularly in the presence of full SU(2) spin-rotation symmetry. Real magnetic compounds, however, generically break SU(2) spin symmetry as a result of spin-orbit coupling—which in many materials provides an “order one” effect. We generalize previous works by using the projective symmetry group method to classify Z2 spin liquids on the square lattice when SU(2) spin symmetry is maximally lifted. We find that, counterintuitively, the lifting of spin symmetry actually results in vastly more spin-liquid phases compared to SU(2)-invariant systems. A generic feature of the SU(2)-broken case is that the spinons naturally undergo p+ip pairing; consequently, many of these Z2 spin liquids feature a topologically nontrivial spinon band structure supporting gapless Majorana edge states. We study in detail several spin-liquid phases with varying numbers of gapless edge states and discuss their topological protection. The edge states are often protected by a combination of time reversal and lattice symmetries and hence resemble recently proposed topological crystalline superconductors.

Spiral order in the honeycomb iridate Li2IrO3
J. Reuther, R. Thomale, and S. Rachel
American Physical Society

Spiral order in the honeycomb iridate Li2IrO3

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