"Orbital Chern Insulator and Quantum Phase Diagram of a Kagome Electron System with Half-Filled Flat Bands"

Yafei Ren: Hong-Chen Jiang, Zhenhua Qiao, and D. N. Sheng; Physical Review Letters, 03/18/21.

Additional Authors: Hong-Chen Jiang, Zhenhua Qiao, and D. N. Sheng

Abstract:

We study the quantum phase diagram of electrons on kagome lattice with half-filled lowest flat bands by considering the antiferromagnetic Heisenberg interaction J, and short-range Coulomb interaction V. In the weak J regime, we identify a fully spin-polarized phase. The presence of finite V drives a spontaneous chiral current, which makes the system an orbital Chern insulator by contributing an orbital magnetization. Such an out-of-plane orbital magnetization allows the presence of a Chern insulating phase independent of the spin orientation in contrast to the spin-orbit coupling induced Chern insulator that disappears with in-plane ferromagnetism constrained by symmetry. Such a symmetry difference provides a criterion to distinguish the physical origin of topological responses in kagome systems. The orbital Chern insulator is robust against small coupling J. By further increasing J, we find that the ferromagnetic topological phase is suppressed, which first becomes partially polarized and then enters a nonmagnetic phase with spin and charge nematicity. The frustrated flat band allows the spin and Coulomb interaction to play an essential role in determining the quantum phases.