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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V038281/1
Title: Detecting fractionalization in strongly correlated magnets
Principal Investigator: Rousochatzakis, Dr I
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 26 October 2021 Ends: 25 October 2024 Value (£): 280,601
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics Magnetism/Magnetic Phenomena
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Jan 2021 EPSRC Physical Sciences January 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Understanding the properties of materials from microscopic principles has been one of the major triumphs of Science, and one that has underpinned the development of modern technologies, from the innovation of computers and magnetic storage devices to fibre-optic communications, lasers and mag- netic resonance imaging. Much of this progress has been made possible by harnessing the quantum properties of matter at the atomic level, an achievement that can hardly be overstated, given that the effects of quantum mechanics cannot be directly perceived by the naked eye.

An exciting frontier of current research, and one that holds the promise for the next generation of quantum technologies, concerns materials with so-called topological order, where quantum mechanical effects can survive and become manifest at macroscopic length scales. Quantum spin liquids are prime exponents for such orders. In conventional magnets, the underlying spins of the atoms order at low temperatures in a characteristic pattern that minimizes their interaction energy. Under certain conditions, however, the interactions cannot fix the relative orientations of the spins uniquely, due to the presence of an infinite number of competing low-energy configurations. As a result the spins evade ordering and continue to fluctuate down to zero temperature. Quantum spin liquids arise as macroscopic coherent superpositions of such low-energy configurations when the quantum mechanical tunnelling between these configurations is pronounced enough. Such a macroscopic coherence can endow the system with a number of remarkable collective properties, such as the fractionalization of spins into fermions and gauge fields (emergent degrees of freedom similar to the electromagnetic fields of light), and topologically protected ground states that can act as fault-tolerant qubits.

After decades of theoretical and experimental work on candidate materials, some of which have been discovered only in the last 10-15 years, we now have a good understanding of the underlying conditions that favour the formation of quantum spin liquids. One of the major remaining challenges, and the one addressed in this proposal, is to develop quantitative diagnostic tools for the unambiguous detection of spin liquids and fractionalization in rear materials. The numerical and semi-analytical many-body platforms proposed here aim at the heart of this challenge and the so-called magnon- spinon dichotomy observed time and again in numerous strongly correlated magnets in dynamical scattering experiments. The results will help to establish the distinctive fingerprints of fractionalization in realistic non-integrable models and unravel the microscopic organising principles of candidate materials that are currently actively pursued.
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Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk