A New Type of Quantum Criticality in the Pyrochlore Iridates
The search for truly quantum phases of matter is one of the center pieces of modern research in condensed matter physics. Quantum spin liquids are exemplars of such phases. They may be considered “quantum disordered” ground states of spin systems, in which zero point fluctuations are so strong that they prevent conventional magnetic long range order. More interestingly, quantum spin liquids are prototypical examples of ground states with massive many-body entanglement, of a degree sufficient to render these states distinct phases of matter. Their highly entangled nature imbues quantum spin liquids with unique physical aspects, such as non-local excitations, topological properties, and more. I will discuss the nature of such phases and how such extraordinary properties may emerge and manifest in several specific materials.