Emergent fractons and algebraic quantum liquid from plaquette melting transitions

Yizhi You, Zhen Bi, Michael Pretko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Paramagnetic spin systems with spontaneously broken spatial symmetries, such as valence bond solid phases, can host topological defects carrying nontrivial quantum numbers, which enables the paradigm of deconfined quantum criticality. In this work, we study the properties of topological defects in valence plaquette solid (VPS) phases on square and cubic lattices. We show that the defects of the VPS order parameter, in addition to possessing nontrivial quantum numbers, have fracton mobility constraints deep in the VPS phase, which has been overlooked previously. The spinon inside a single vortex cannot move freely in any direction, while a dipolar pair of vortices with spinon pairs can only move perpendicularly to its dipole moment. These mobility constraints, while they persist, can potentially inhibit the condensation of vortices and preclude a continuous transition from the VPS to the Néel antiferromagnet. Instead, the VPS melting transition can be driven by proliferation of spinon dipoles. For example, we argue that a two-dimensional VPS can melt into a stable gapless phase in the form of an algebraic bond liquid with algebraic correlations and long-range entanglement. Such a bond liquid phase yields a concrete example of the elusive two-dimensional Bose metal with symmetry fractionalization. We also study the three-dimensional valence plaquette and valence cube ordered phase, and demonstrate that the topological defects therein also have fractonic dynamics. Possible nearby phases after melting the valence plaquettes or cubes are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013162
JournalPhysical Review Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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