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Concept# Critical exponent

Summary

Critical exponents describe the behavior of physical quantities near continuous phase transitions. It is believed, though not proven, that they are universal, i.e. they do not depend on the details of the physical system, but only on some of its general features. For instance, for ferromagnetic systems, the critical exponents depend only on:

- the dimension of the system
- the range of the interaction
- the spin dimension

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Mingee Chung, Henrik Moodysson Rønnow

We demonstrate quantum critical scaling for an S = 1/2 Heisenberg antiferromagnetic chain compound Cu(C4H4N2)(NO3)(2) in a magnetic field around saturation, by analyzing previously reported magnetization [Y. Kono et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 037202 (2015)], thermal expansion [J. Rohrkamp et al., J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 200, 012169 (2010)], and NMR relaxation data [H. Kuhne et al., Phys. Rev. B 80, 045110 (2009)]. The scaling of magnetization is demonstrated through collapsing the data for a range of both temperature and field onto a single curve without making any assumption for a theoretical form. The data collapse is subsequently shown to closely follow the theoretically predicted scaling function without any adjustable parameters. Experimental boundaries for the quantum critical region could be drawn from the variable range beyond which the scaled data deviate from the theoretical function. Similarly to the magnetization, quantum critical scaling of the thermal expansion is also demonstrated. Further, the spin dynamics probed via NMR relaxation rate 1/T-1 close to the saturation is shown to follow the theoretically predicted quantum critical behavior as 1/T-1 proportional to T-0.5 persisting up to temperatures as high as k(B)T similar or equal to J, where J is the exchange coupling constant.

Thermal and quantum phase transitions of some rare earth compounds (LiErF4, LiYbF4, LiGdF4 and LiTmF4) are established using the mean field theory. These preliminary calculations allowed evidencing the existence of a novel high-field antiferromagnetic phase in LiErF4, and a still unexplained symmetry breaking in LiGdF4. But the discrepancies with experimental results impel a more sophisticated method. We then present analytical and numerical evidence for the validity of an effective approach to the description of the dipolar coupled antiferromagnet LiErF4. We show that the approach, when implemented in mean field calculations, is able to capture both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the physics of LiErF4 at small external field and low temperature, yielding results that agree with those obtained in the full Hilbert space using mean field theory. This model nevertheless still fails to describe the LiHoF4 system and needs to be improved. We finally use this toy model as a basis for classical Monte Carlo simulations of LiErF4, which allows the calculation of thermodynamical quantities of the system, as well as the evolution of the order parameters as a function of field H and temperature T. These calculations yield results that are much closer to the experiments than those based on the mean field approximation. Although the theoretical critical temperature is still overestimated by 34%, the critical exponents computed from this effective model correspond to those found experimentally.

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