Journal article

Kagome Antiferromagnet: A Chiral Topological Spin Liquid?

Inspired by the recent discovery of a new instability towards a chiral phase of the classical Heisenberg model on the kagome lattice, we propose a specific chiral spin liquid that reconciles different, well-established results concerning both the classical and quantum models. This proposal is analyzed in an extended mean-field Schwinger boson framework encompassing time reversal symmetry breaking phases, which allows both a classical and a quantum phase description. At low temperatures, we find that quantum fluctuations favor this chiral phase, which is stable against small perturbations of second- and third-neighbor interactions. For spin-1/2, this phase may be, beyond the mean field, a chiral gapped spin liquid. Such a phase is consistent with the density matrix renormalization group results of Yan et al. [Science 332, 1173 (2011)]. Mysterious features of the low-lying excitations of exact diagonalization spectra also find an explanation in this framework. Moreover, thermal fluctuations compete with quantum ones and induce a transition from this flux phase to a planar zero flux phase at a nonzero value of the renormalized temperature (T=S-2), reconciling these results with those obtained for the classical system.


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