Generic spin model for the honeycomb iridates beyond the Kitaev limit

Phys Rev Lett. 2014 Feb 21;112(7):077204. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.077204. Epub 2014 Feb 20.


Recently, realizations of Kitaev physics have been sought in the A2IrO3 family of honeycomb iridates, originating from oxygen-mediated exchange through edge-shared octahedra. However, for the jeff=1/2 Mott insulator in these materials, exchange from direct d-orbital overlap is relevant, and it was proposed that a Heisenberg term should be added to the Kitaev model. Here, we provide the generic nearest-neighbor spin Hamiltonian when both oxygen-mediated and direct overlap are present, containing a bond-dependent off-diagonal exchange in addition to Heisenberg and Kitaev terms. We analyze this complete model using a combination of classical techniques and exact diagonalization. Near the Kitaev limit, we find new magnetic phases, 120° and incommensurate spiral order, as well as extended regions of zigzag and stripy order. Possible applications to Na2IrO3 and Li2IrO3 are discussed.