Effective spin couplings in the Mott insulator of the honeycomb lattice Hubbard model
Motivated by the recent discovery of a spin-liquid phase for the Hubbard model on the honeycomb lattice at half-filling (Meng et al 2010 Nature 88 487), we apply both perturbative and non-perturbative techniques to derive effective spin Hamiltonians describing the low-energy physics of the Mottinsulating phase of the system. Exact diagonalizations of the so-derived models on small clusters are performed, in order to assess the quality of the effective low-energy theory in the spin-liquid regime. We show that six-spin interactions on the elementary loop of the honeycomb lattice are the dominant sub-leading effective couplings. A minimal spin model is shown to reproduce most of the energetic properties of the Hubbard model on the honeycomb lattice in its spin-liquid phase. Surprisingly, a more elaborate effective low-energy spin model obtained by a systematic graph expansion rather disagrees beyond a certain point with the numerical results for the Hubbard model at intermediate couplings.