Many-body systems with multiple emergent time scales arise in various contexts, including classical critical systems, correlated quantum materials, and ultracold atoms. We investigate such nontrivial quantum dynamics in a different setting: a spin-1 bilinear-biquadratic chain. It has a solvable entangled ground state, but a gapless excitation spectrum that is poorly understood. By using large-scale density matrix renormalization group simulations, we find that the lowest excitations have a dynamical exponent z that varies from 2 to 3.2 as we vary a coupling in the Hamiltonian. We find an additional gapless mode with a continuously varying exponent 2≤z<2.7, which establishes the presence of multiple dynamics. In order to explain these striking properties, we construct a continuum wave function for the ground state, which correctly describes the correlations and entanglement properties. We also give a continuum parent Hamiltonian, but show that additional ingredients are needed to capture the excitations of the chain. By using an exact mapping to the nonequilibrium dynamics of a classical spin chain, we find that the large dynamical exponent is due to subdiffusive spin motion. Finally, we discuss the connections to other spin chains and to a family of quantum critical models in two dimensions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics