Quadrupolar Ordering in Two-Dimensional Spin-One Systems

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.

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