"Transverse fields to tune an Ising-nematic quantum phase transition"

Akash V. Maharaj: Elliott W. Rosenberg, Alexander T. Hristov, Erez Berg, Rafael M. Fernandes, Ian R. Fisher and Steven A. Kivelson; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12/05/17.

Additional Authors: Elliott W. Rosenberg, Alexander T. Hristov, Erez Berg, Rafael M. Fernandes, Ian R. Fisher and Steven A. Kivelson

Abstract:

The paradigmatic example of a continuous quantum phase transition is the transverse field Ising ferromagnet. In contrast to classical critical systems, whose properties depend only on symmetry and the dimension of space, the nature of a quantum phase transition also depends on the dynamics. In the transverse field Ising model, the order parameter is not conserved, and increasing the transverse field enhances quantum fluctuations until they become strong enough to restore the symmetry of the ground state. Ising pseudospins can represent the order parameter of any system with a twofold degenerate broken-symmetry phase, including electronic nematic order associated with spontaneous point-group symmetry breaking. Here, we show for the representative example of orbital-nematic ordering of a non-Kramers doublet that an orthogonal strain or a perpendicular magnetic field plays the role of the transverse field, thereby providing a practical route for tuning appropriate materials to a quantum critical point. While the transverse fields are conjugate to seemingly unrelated order parameters, their nontrivial commutation relations with the nematic order parameter, which can be represented by a Berry-phase term in an effective field theory, intrinsically intertwine the different order parameters.