A two-dimensional spin liquid in quantum kagome ice

Nat Commun. 2015 Jun 22;6:7421. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8421.

Abstract

Actively sought since the turn of the century, two-dimensional quantum spin liquids (QSLs) are exotic phases of matter where magnetic moments remain disordered even at zero temperature. Despite ongoing searches, QSLs remain elusive, due to a lack of concrete knowledge of the microscopic mechanisms that inhibit magnetic order in materials. Here we study a model for a broad class of frustrated magnetic rare-earth pyrochlore materials called quantum spin ices. When subject to an external magnetic field along the [111] crystallographic direction, the resulting interactions contain a mix of geometric frustration and quantum fluctuations in decoupled two-dimensional kagome planes. Using quantum Monte Carlo simulations, we identify a set of interactions sufficient to promote a groundstate with no magnetic long-range order, and a gap to excitations, consistent with a Z2 spin liquid phase. This suggests an experimental procedure to search for two-dimensional QSLs within a class of pyrochlore quantum spin ice materials.