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Spin fractionalisation and entanglement in realistic quantum spin liquids

Department of Physics

About the Project

The quantum spin liquid (QSL) is a long-sought-after magnetic state of matter, in which quantum fluctuations prevent spins from developing long-range order even at absolute zero temperature. In contrast to most states of matter that result from spontaneous symmetry breaking, QSLs form symmetric and highly entangled ground states supporting exotic elementary excitations with non-Abelian exchange statistics [1]. The pursuit of QSLs has gained an enormous momentum in recent years with the synthesis of so-called Kitaev materials—a family of strongly correlated Mott insulators that provide a close solid-state realisation of Kitaev’s “anyon model”, which allows for topological quantum computation [2,3]. However, a satisfactory understanding of QSLs beyond exactly solvable models remains hardly accessible, with the role played by defects and impurities only recently started to be understood and explored. In this project, you will combine cutting-edge analytical and numerical approaches [4,5] to identify highly entangled spin liquid phases in disordered materials. This combined approach will allow correlating changes in the low-energy spectrum with thermal transport coefficients, and ultimately aims to understand the emergence and robustness of spin liquid phases in realistic conditions. This project will involve performing computer simulations utilising the state-of-the-art computational facilities at the Viking Research Computing Cluster in York, and collaborative work within the remit of the KITE open-source initiative for large-scale quantum simulations [6]. Candidates should have an excellent understanding of quantum mechanics and solid state physics, and be motivated to work in a highly collaborative research environment.
[1] P.A. Lee, Science 321, 1306 (2008) [2] A. Kitaev, Annals of Physics 32, 2 (2006) [3] G. Jackeli and G. Khaliullin, Physical Review Letters 102, 017205 (2009) [4] L. Savary and L. Balents, Rep. Prog. Phys. 80, 016502 (2016) [5] A. Ferreira and E. Mucciolo, Physical Review Letters 115, 106601 (2015). [6]

Funding Notes

Eligibility: UK and EU students. 3 years tuition fees plus up to 3.5 years stipend (£15,285 for 2020/21) for UK students. Students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible for a fees-only award. Academic entry requirements: at least a class 2:1 MSc or MPhys degree in Physics.

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