Mott insulators in the strong spin-orbit coupling limit: from Heisenberg to a quantum compass and Kitaev models

Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Jan 9;102(1):017205. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.017205. Epub 2009 Jan 6.


We study the magnetic interactions in Mott-Hubbard systems with partially filled t_{2g} levels and with strong spin-orbit coupling. The latter entangles the spin and orbital spaces, and leads to a rich variety of the low energy Hamiltonians that extrapolate from the Heisenberg to a quantum compass model depending on the lattice geometry. This gives way to "engineer" in such Mott insulators an exactly solvable spin model by Kitaev relevant for quantum computation. We, finally, explain "weak" ferromagnetism, with an anomalously large ferromagnetic moment, in Sr2IrO4.