Compass models: Theory and physical motivations

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Zohar Nussinov - , Washington University St. Louis, Technische Universität Dresden (Autor:in)
  • Jeroen Van Den Brink - , Professur für Festkörpertheorie (gB/IFW), Washington University St. Louis, Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (Autor:in)


Compass models are theories of matter in which the couplings between the internal spin (or other relevant field) components are inherently spatially (typically, direction) dependent. A simple illustrative example is furnished by the 90° compass model on a square lattice in which only couplings of the form τixτjx (where {τia}a denote Pauli operators at site i) are associated with nearest-neighbor sites i and j separated along the x axis of the lattice while τiyτjy couplings appear for sites separated by a lattice constant along the y axis. Similar compass-type interactions can appear in diverse physical systems. For instance, compass models describe Mott insulators with orbital degrees of freedom where interactions sensitively depend on the spatial orientation of the orbitals involved as well as the low-energy effective theories of frustrated quantum magnets, and a host of other systems such as vacancy centers, and cold atomic gases. The fundamental interdependence between internal (spin, orbital, or other) and external (i.e., spatial) degrees of freedom which underlies compass models generally leads to very rich behaviors, including the frustration of (semi-)classical ordered states on nonfrustrated lattices, and to enhanced quantum effects, prompting, in certain cases, the appearance of zero-temperature quantum spin liquids. As a consequence of these frustrations, new types of symmetries and their associated degeneracies may appear. These intermediate symmetries lie midway between the extremes of global symmetries and local gauge symmetries and lead to effective dimensional reductions. In this article, compass models are reviewed in a unified manner, paying close attention to exact consequences of these symmetries and to thermal and quantum fluctuations that stabilize orders via order-out-of-disorder effects. This is complemented by a survey of numerical results. In addition to reviewing past works, a number of other models are introduced and new results established. In particular, a general link between flat bands and symmetries is detailed.


PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 12 Jan. 2015


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