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Publication# Emergence and Detection of Exotic Phases in Spin-1 Systems

Abstract

This work is devoted to the study of spin S = 1 systems, and more precisely to the emergence of exotic quantum phases in such systems, and to the establishment of tools to observe such phases. It is split in four main chapters. In the first chapter, we show how spin S = 1 systems can emerge from microscopic models, and which kinds of interaction might appear in the effective spin model. We start from a two-orbital Hubbard model, and by a strong coupling development to fourth order, we derive an effective model. We will see that three types of interaction appear beyond the Heisenberg interaction : a plaquette interaction, a biquadratic interaction and a three-spin interaction. In the second chapter, we study Raman scattering on systems with quadrupolar order to show that it can be used to probe such order. We first start by deriving an effective light scattering operator following Shastry and Shraiman calculation on spin S = 1/2 systems. Using this effective operator, we compute the Raman spectra with exact diagonalization and linear flavor-wave theory. We show that two different regimes appear depending on the incoming photon energy, and that combining this to different polarizations accessible with Raman scattering, the presence of quadrupolar order can be established with this probe. The third chapter is devoted to the study of the three-spin interaction that appeared in the first chapter on a chain. We start by establishing the classical and the mean field phase diagram of this system. We then turn to the quantum case. We show that, whatever the value of the spin is, the ground state is perfectly dimerized for a particular value of the three-spin interaction. The presence of such a point in the phase diagram implies the existence of a quantum phase transition when increasing the three-spin interaction. By an intensive numerical study, we show that this transition is continuous, and that its critical behavior is the one of a SU(2)k=2S Wess-Zumino-Witten model, at least for spins S = 1/2,1,3/2,2. In the last section of this chapter, we study the phase diagram of the chain for spin S = 1 under a magnetic field. We conclude this work with a study of the three-spin interaction on a square lattice. The classical and mean field phase diagram are established. It is shown that for a large three-spin interaction, the classical ground state is highly degenerate. This degeneracy is lifted in the quantum case by a process of order by disorder. We compute the quantum fluctuations with linear spin-wave theory, and show that some phases are selected over others. We confirm these results by an exact diagonalization study of the system.

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The principal aim of this thesis is to gain a better understanding of the competition between magnetic and quadrupolar degrees of freedom on two-dimensional lattices. Recent experimental investigations of the material NiGa2S4 revealed several anomalous properties that might be accounted for within the framework of quadrupolar ordering. Exhibiting both a ferroquadrupolar and an antiferroquadrupolar phase, the S = 1 bilinear-biquadratic Heisenberg model on the triangular lattice is a possible candidate for describing the low-temperature behaviour of the system. In this work, we put forward a more realistic model that includes single-ion anisotropy. We perform a thorough investigation of the variational phase diagram of this model and we show that it exhibits a variety of unconventional phases. We derive the excitation spectrum of the quadrupolar phases in the phase diagram and we point out that ferroquadrupolar order is particularly sensitive to the nature of anisotropy. Finally, we study quantum effects in the perturbative limit of large anisotropy and we argue that the non-trivial degeneracy of the mean-field solution is lifted by an emergent supersolid phase. We also discuss our results in the context of NiGa2S4. In the second part of the thesis, we aim at gaining an insight into the interplay between geometrical frustration and quadrupolar degrees of freedom by mapping out the phase diagram of the spin-one bilinear-biquadratic model on the square lattice. Our variational approach reveals a remarkable 1/2-magnetization plateau of mixed quadrupolar and magnetic character above the classically degenerate "semi-ordered" phase, and this finding is corroborated by exact diagonalization of finite clusters. "Order-by-disorder" phenomenon gives rise to a state featuring three-sublattice antiferroquadrupolar order below the plateau, which is truly surprising given the bipartite nature of the square lattice. We place particular emphasis on investigating the properties of the SU(3) Heisenberg model, which is shown to feature a subtle competition between quantum and thermal fluctuations. Our results suggest a suppression of two-sublattice Néel order in a finite window below the SU(3) point. Experimental implications for the Mott-insulating states of three-flavour fermionic atoms in optical lattices are discussed.

In my thesis, transport measurements such as resistivity and, more importantly, thermopower S, were used to explore the phase diagram of bad metals. Bad metals are electronically correlated systems whose ground state lies close to a quantum phase transition. By tuning the control parameters, such as temperature (T ), magnetic field (B), hydrostatic pressure (p) or chemical substitution (x), we can induce phase transitions between the various electronic, magnetic and structural phases. Here, the thermopower is presented as a unique tool for probing quantum phase transition because it is a measure of the entropy of conducting electrons. The main part of the thesis is dedicated to the study of Fe-based superconductors (FeSC) discovered in 2008. Their parent compound has an antiferromagnetic (AF) ground state, where the itinerant electrons form a spin-density wave (SDW), a periodic modulation of spin density. This coincides or is preceded by a structural, tetragonal-to-orthorhombic transition. The nesting between the electron and hole Fermi surface is believed to be the driving mechanism for the SDW state. By changing the structural or chemical properties the AF ground state of FeSC is suppressed, giving way to superconductivity (SC). The remaining antiferromagnetic fluctuations above the transition can provide a glue for SC pairing. Here, the analysis of the thermopower S/T of BaFe1−xCoxAs2 (BFCA) in the x-T phase diagram shows the signatures of the spin fluctuation which have a dome-like dependence and follow the trend of superconducting Tc . The logarithmic increase of S/T upon decreasing T is ascribed to the proximity of the spin-density-wave quantum critical point. It can be understood as an increase of entropy due to the incommensurate AF spin fluctuations. We can ascribe the high values of thermopower in BFCA at intermediate- and room-temperatures to the influence of low-T quantum criticality. To probe the response of the electronic system in FeSC to structural changes, we performed measurements under pressure of the parent compound BaFe2As2 (BFA), the SC electron-doped BFCA, and hole-doped Ba1−xKxFe2As2 (BKFA). In the parent compound pressure suppresses the structural/SDW transition, similar to the effect of doping. For doped systems, in order to describe the behavior of thermopower in the high-T range (above 100K) we used a semi-metallic two-band model which was fitted to the data in order to extract the pressure dependence of the band parameters. In both doping cases the effect of pressure was similar, an increase of the band overlap and of the effective number of charge carriers. With this model we can explain the high-T , x and p dependence of thermopower in both electron- and hole-doped BFA. In a structurally simpler Fe-chalcogenide Fe1+yTe1−xSex compound, the excess of Fe has a Kondo-like influence on the charge carriers which dramatically changes the physics of the normal state. To probe the normal state, pressure, doping, magnetic Fe-excess concentration (y) and temperature were used as control parameters. At low-T a characteristic upturn of resistivity (ρmag ) is observed, followed by an increase of thermopower (Smag ), which we identify as the magnetic contribution caused by the spin-flip scattering events. Increasing the y resulted in an increase of ρmag , and a decrease of Smag , which is in agreement with the behavior of canonical Kondo-systems. Pressure suppresses the magnetic contribution to transport, thus increasing the itinerancy of the system. MnSi is another system in which the sensitivity of thermopower to entropy brings new information related to the complex magnetic structure. Pressure was used to drive the system from a helically ordered, canonical Fermi-liquid (FL) phase with T 2-resistivity to the intrinsically disordered, non-Fermi-liquid (NFL) phase above pc with T3/2-dependence. Our contour plot of S/T demonstrated how powerful the thermopower technique is, by reproducing the whole previously established T -p phase diagram. At the phase transition from the magnetically-ordered FL phase to the disordered NFL, the thermopower is dramatically enhanced. We bring useful information about the mysterious partial order (PO) phase inside the NFL phase, previously detected only by neutron scattering. The fluctuating helices scenario can describe the observed increase of entropy/thermopower in the PO phase. At ambient pressure, close to the helical transition of MnSi, a moderate magnetic field can stabilize the skyrmion lattice - the lattice of topological magnetic whirls, vortices. We observe a signature of the skyrmion lattice as a minute drop in thermopower. It is located exactly in the same region of the T − B phase diagram where an increase in magnetoresistance and Hall effect was reported previously. This feature originates from the additional scattering of conducting electrons on magnetic vortices, while the change in S is dominated by the decrease of entropy as the stable skyrmion lattice is formed. Overall, resistivity was used to confirm the established phase diagram, while thermopower, as an interesting and not sufficiently understood technique, was used to probe the sensitive changes of the charge carriers at the Fermi surface. We explored various phases showing how useful thermopower is to probe the entropy of electronic system on the verge of quantum phase transition.

In this thesis we have studied the emergence of spontaneously dimerized phases in frustrated spin-S chains, with emphasis on the nature of the critical lines between the dimerized and non-dimerized phases. The main numerical method used in this thesis is the Density Matrix Renormalization Group (DMRG). The DMRG algorithm is a relatively old and well established method for the investigation of the ground-state. In this thesis, we show how to use this algorithm to calculate the excitation spectra of one-dimensional critical systems, known in the context of conformal field theory as conformal towers of states. We have demonstrated that the method works very well for two simple minimal models (the transverse-field Ising model and the three-state Potts model), and we have used it systematically to identify the universality classes and the underlying conformal field theories of various one-dimensional spin systems. It has been known for a long time that the transition to a spontaneously dimerized phase in a spin-1 chain can be either continuous, in the Wess-Zumino-Witten (WZW) SU(2) level 2 universality class, or first order. By combining a careful numerical investigation with a conformal field theory analysis, we were able to detect in a frustrated spin-1 chain with competing next-nearest-neighbor and three-site interactions the presence of yet another type of continuous phase transition that belongs to the Ising universality class. In contrast to the WZW SU(2) level 2 critical line, at which the singlet-triplet gap closes, the Ising transition occurs entirely in the singlet sector, while the singlet-triplet gap remains open. The use of the standard DMRG approach, along the lines mentioned above, has allowed us to provide explicit numerical evidence for the presence of a conformal tower of singlets inside the spin gap. Moreover, according to field theory, a WZW SU(2) level k critical line can turn into a first order transition due to the presence of a marginal operator in the WZW SU(2) level k model. A careful investigation of the conformal towers along the critical lines has allowed us to find the precise location of this point in both S=1 and S=3/2 chains. We have also shown that the nature of the continuous dimerization transitions is related to the topological properties of the corresponding phases, and that the phase diagrams of various frustrated spin chains can be effectively extracted by looking at the local topological order parameter - the degeneracy of the lowest state in the entanglement spectrum. When coupled with the conformal field theory of open systems, DMRG appears to be an extremely powerful tool to characterize not only the phase diagram and the ground-state correlations of quantum one-dimensional systems, but also the excitation spectrum and the conformal structure along critical lines.