Quantum ice: A quantum Monte Carlo study

Nic Shannon, Olga Sikora, Frank Pollmann, Karlo Penc, Peter Fulde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ice states, in which frustrated interactions lead to a macroscopic ground-state degeneracy, occur in water ice, in problems of frustrated charge order on the pyrochlore lattice, and in the family of rare-earth magnets collectively known as spin ice. Of particular interest at the moment are "quantum spin-ice" materials, where large quantum fluctuations may permit tunnelling between a macroscopic number of different classical ground states. Here we use zero-temperature quantum Monte Carlo simulations to show how such tunnelling can lift the degeneracy of a spin or charge ice, stabilizing a unique "quantum-ice" ground state-a quantum liquid with excitations described by the Maxwell action of (3+1)-dimensional quantum electrodynamics. We further identify a competing ordered squiggle state, and show how both squiggle and quantum-ice states might be distinguished in neutron scattering experiments on a spin-ice material.

Original languageEnglish
Article number067204
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume108
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

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