Category Archives: Physical Review B

Kitaev magnetism in honeycomb RuCl3 with intermediate spin-orbit coupling

Intensive studies of the interplay between spin-orbit coupling (SOC) and electronic correlations in transition metal compounds have recently been undertaken. In particular, jeff = 1/2 bands on a honeycomb lattice provide a pathway to realize Kitaev’s exactly solvable spin model. However, since current wisdom requires strong atomic SOC to make jeff=1/2 bands, studies have been limited to iridium oxides. Contrary to this expectation, we demonstrate how Kitaev interactions arise in 4d-orbital honeycomb α-RuCl3, despite having significantly weaker SOC than the iridium oxides, via assistance from electron correlations. A strong coupling spin model for these correlation-assisted jeff = 1/2 bands is derived, in which large antiferromagnetic Kitaev interactions emerge along with ferromagnetic Heisenberg interactions. Our analyses suggest that the ground state is a zigzag-ordered phase lying close to the antiferromagnetic Kitaev spin liquid. Experimental implications for angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy, neutron scattering, and optical conductivities are discussed.


Topological nodal line semimetals with and without spin-orbital coupling

We theoretically study three-dimensional topological semimetals (TSMs) with nodal lines protected by crystalline symmetries. Compared with TSMs with point nodes, e.g., Weyl semimetals and Dirac semimetals, where the conduction and the valence bands touch at discrete points, in these new TSMs the two bands cross at closed lines in the Brillouin zone. We propose two new classes of symmetry protected nodal lines in the absence and in the presence of spin-orbital coupling (SOC), respectively. In the former, we discuss nodal lines that are protected by the combination of inversion symmetry and time-reversal symmetry; yet unlike any previously studied nodal lines in the same symmetry class, each nodal line has a Z2 monopole charge and can only be created (annihilated) in pairs. In the second class, with SOC, we show that a nonsymmorphic symmetry (screw axis) protects a four-band crossing nodal line in systems having both inversion and time-reversal symmetries.


Semimetal and Topological Insulator in Perovskite Iridates

The two-dimensional layered perovskite Sr2IrO4 was proposed to be a spin-orbit Mott insulator, where the effect of Hubbard interaction is amplified on a narrow Jeff=1/2band due to strong spin-orbit coupling. On the other hand, the three-dimensional orthorhombic perovskite (Pbnm) SrIrO3 remains metallic. To understand the physical origin of the metallic state and possible transitions to insulating phases, we construct a tight-binding model for SrIrO3. The band structure possesses a line node made ofJeff=1/2 bands below the Fermi level. As a consequence, instability toward magnetic ordering is suppressed, and the system remains metallic. This line node, originating from the underlying crystal structure, turns into a pair of three-dimensional nodal points on the introduction of a staggered potential or spin-orbit coupling strength between alternating layers. Increasing this potential beyond a critical strength induces a transition to a strong topological insulator, followed by another transition to a normal band insulator. We propose that materials constructed with alternating Ir- and Rh-oxide layers along the (001) direction, such as Sr2IrRhO6, are candidates for a strong topological insulator.

Jean-Michel Carter1, V. Vijay Shankar1, M. Ahsan Zeb2, and Hae-Young Kee1,3,*
1Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A7 Canada
2Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
3Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada