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Exotic Quantum Phases and Phase Transitions of Strongly Interacting Electrons in Low-Dimensional Systems


Experiments on strongly correlated quasi-two-dimensional electronic materials---for example, the high-temperature cuprate superconductors and the putative quantum spin liquids kappa-(BEDT-TTF)2Cu2(CN)3 and EtMe3Sb[Pd(dmit)2]2---routinely reveal highly mysterious quantum behavior which cannot be explained in terms of weakly interacting degrees of freedom. Theoretical progress thus requires the introduction of completely new concepts and machinery beyond the traditional framework of the band theory of solids and its interacting counterpart, Landau's Fermi liquid theory. In full two dimensions, controlled and reliable analytical approaches to such problems are severely lacking, as are numerical simulations of even the simplest of model Hamiltonians due to the infamous fermionic sign problem.

Here, we attempt to circumvent some of these difficulties by studying analogous problems in quasi-one dimension. In this lower dimensional setting, theoretical and numerical tractability are on much stronger footing due to the methods of bosonization and the density matrix renormalization group, respectively. Using these techniques, we attack two problems: (1) the Mott transition between a Fermi liquid metal and a quantum spin liquid as potentially directly relevant to the organic compounds kappa-(BEDT-TTF)2Cu2(CN)3 and EtMe3Sb[Pd(dmit)2]2 and (2) non-Fermi liquid metals as strongly motivated by the strange metal phase observed in the cuprates. In both cases, we are able to realize highly exotic quantum phases as ground states of reasonable microscopic models. This lends strong credence to respective underlying slave-particle descriptions of the low-energy physics, which are inherently strongly interacting and also unconventional in comparison to weakly interacting alternatives.

Finally, working in two dimensions directly, we propose a new slave-particle theory which explains in a universal way many of the intriguing experimental results of the triangular lattice organic spin liquid candidates kappa-(BEDT-TTF)2Cu2(CN)3 and EtMe3Sb[Pd(dmit)2]2. With use of large-scale variational Monte Carlo calculations, we show that this new state has very competitive trial energy in an effective spin model thought to describe the essential features of the real materials.

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