Further insights into the thermodynamics of the Kitaev honeycomb model

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Abstract

Here we revisit the thermodynamics of the Kitaev quantum spin liquid realized on the honeycomb lattice. We address two main questions: First, we investigate whether there are observable thermodynamic signatures of the topological Majorana boundary modes of the Kitaev honeycomb model. We argue that for the time-reversal invariant case the residual low-temperature entropy is the primary thermodynamic signature of these Majorana edge modes. Using large-scale Monte Carlo simulations, we verify that this residual entropy is present in the full Kitaev model. When time-reversal symmetry is broken, the Majorana edge modes are potentially observable in more direct thermodynamic measurements such as the specific heat, though only at temperatures well below the bulk gap. Second, we study the energetics, and the corresponding thermodynamic signatures, of the flux excitations in the Kitaev model. Specifically, we study the flux interactions on both cylinder and torus geometries numerically and quantify their impact on the thermodynamics of the Kitaev spin liquid by using a polynomial fit for the average flux energy as a function of flux density and extrapolating it to the thermodynamic limit. By comparing this model to Monte Carlo simulations, we find that flux interactions have a significant quantitative impact on the shape and the position of the low-temperature peak in the specific heat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number224402
JournalPhysical Review B
Volume102
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Brent Perreault and Wen-Han Kao for helpful discussions. The work of N.B.P. was supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. DMR 1929311. F. J. B. is grateful for the support of the National Science Foundation under Awards No. DMR 1352271 and No. DMR-1928166. K.F. was partly supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. DMR 1352271 and partly by No. DMR 1929311.

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