Dimer phases in quantum antiferromagnets with orbital degeneracy
We study and solve the ground-state problem of a microscopic model for a family of orbitally degenerate quantum magnets. The orbital degrees of freedom are assumed to have a directional character and are represented by static Potts-like variables. In the limit of vanishing Hund's coupling, the ground-state manifold of such a model is spanned by the hard-core dimer (spin singlet) coverings of the lattice. The extensive degeneracy of dimer coverings is lifted at a finite Hund's coupling through an order-out-of-disorder mechanism by virtual triplet excitations. The relevance of our results to several experimentally studied systems is discussed.