Correlated spin liquids in the quantum kagome antiferromagnet at finite field: a renormalization group analysis
We analyze the antiferromagnetic spin-1/2 XXZ model on the kagome lattice at finite external magnetic field with the help of a non-perturbative zero-temperature renormalization group (RG) technique. The exact nature of the ground and excited state properties (e.g. gapped or gapless spectrum etc) of this system are still debated. Approximate methods have typically been adopted towards understanding the low-energy spectrum. Following the work of Kumar et al (2014 Phys. Rev. B 90 174409), we use a Jordan─Wigner transformation to map the spin problem into one of spinless fermions (spinons) in the presence of a statistical gauge field, and with nearest-neighbor interactions. While the work of Kumar et al was confined mostly to the plateau at 1/3-filling (magnetization per site) in the XY regime, we analyze the role of inter-spinon interactions in shaping the phases around this plateau in the entire XXZ model. The RG phase diagram obtained contains three spin liquid phases whose position is determined as a function of the exchange anisotropy and the energy scale for fluctuations arising from spinon scattering. Two of these spins liquids are topologically ordered states of matter with gapped, degenerate states on the torus. The gap for one of these phases corresponds to the one-spinon band gap of the Azbel─Hofstadter spectrum for the XY part of the Hamiltonian, while the other arises from two-spinon interactions. The Heisenberg point of this problem is found to lie within the interaction gapped spin liquid phase, in broad agreement with a recent experimental finding. The third phase is an algebraic spin liquid with a gapless Dirac spectrum for spinon excitations, and possess properties that show departures from the Fermi liquid paradigm. The three phase boundaries correspond to critical theories, and meet at a SU(2)-symmetric multicritical point. This special critical point agrees well with the gap-closing transition point predicted by Kumar et al. We discuss the relevance of our findings to various recent experiments, as well as results obtained from other theoretical analyses.