"Fractionalization, entanglement, and separation: understanding the collective excitations in a spin-orbital chain"

Cheng-Chien Chen: Michel van Veenendaal, Thomas P. Devereaux, and Krzysztof Wohlfeld; Physical Review B 91, 04/02/15.

Additional Authors: Michel van Veenendaal, Thomas P. Devereaux, and Krzysztof Wohlfeld


Using a combined analytical and numerical approach, we study the collective spin and orbital excitations in a spin-orbital chain under a crystal field. Irrespective of the crystal field strength, these excitations can be universally described by fractionalized fermions. The fractionalization phenomenon persists and contrasts strikingly with the case of a spin chain, where fractionalized spinons cannot be individually observed but confined to form magnons in a strong magnetic field. In the spin-orbital chain, each of the fractional quasiparticles carries both spin and orbital quantum numbers, and the two variables are always entangled in the collective excitations. Our result further shows that the recently reported separation phenomenon occurs when crystal fields fully polarize the orbital degrees of freedom. In this case, however, the spinon and orbiton dynamics are decoupled solely because of a redefinition of the spin and orbital quantum numbers.