Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Michael Hermele

Second Advisor

Victor Gurarie

Third Advisor

Leo Radzihovsky

Fourth Advisor

Ana Maria Rey

Fifth Advisor

Jonathan Wise

Abstract

In this thesis, we study the topological phases of quantum spin systems. One project is to investigate a class of anti-ferromagnetic SU(N) Heisenberg models, describing Mott insulators of fermionic ultra-cold alkaline earth atoms on the three-dimensional simple cubic lattice. Our large-N analysis maps a rich phase diagram. One particularly striking state we found spontaneously breaks lattice rotation symmetry, where the cubic lattice breaks up into bilayers, each of which forms a two-dimensional chiral spin liquid state.

In the other projects, we study the phenomenon of symmetry fractionalization on anyons as a tool to characterize two-dimensional symmetry enriched topological phases. In particular, we focus on how crystalline symmetries may fractionalize in gapped Z2 spin liquids. If the system has the symmetry of the square lattice, then there are 2080 symmetry fractionalization patterns possible. With exactly solvable models, we realize 487 of these in strictly two-dimensional systems. In addition, we succeed to understand why the remaining patterns cannot be found in the family of models we construct. Some can only appear on the surface of three-dimensional systems with non-trivial point group symmetry protected topological (pgSPT) order, whose boundary degrees of freedom transform non-locally under the symmetries. We construct a simple toy model to show this anomalous crystalline symmetry fractionalization phenomenon associated with a reflection. Moreover, our approach establishes the connection between the pgSPT phases and the topological phases with on-site symmetries in lower dimensions. This insight is very useful for classification of pgSPT orders in general.

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