Separation of spin and charge quantum numbers in strongly correlated systems

Christopher Mudry, Eduardo Fradkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we reexamine the problem of the separation of spin and charge degrees of freedom in two-dimensional strongly correlated systems. We establish a set of sufficient conditions for the occurrence of spin and charge separation. Specifically, we discuss this issue in the context of the Heisenberg model for spin-1/2 on a square lattice with nearest (J1) and next-nearest (J2) neighbor antiferromagnetic couplings. Our formulation makes explicit the existence of a local SU(2) gauge symmetry once the spin-1/2 operators are replaced by bound states of spinons. The mean-field theory for the spinons is solved numerically as a function of the ratio J2/J1 for the so-called s-RVB ansatz (s-RVB stands for short range resonating valence bond). A second-order phase transition exists in a flux state for J2/J1 larger than the critical value (J2/J1)cr identify the range 0<J2/J1<(J2/J1)cr as the s-RVB phase. It is characterized by the existence of a finite gap to the elementary excitations (spinons) and the breakdown of all the continuous gauge symmetries. An effective continuum theory for the spinons and the gauge degrees of freedom is constructed just below the onset of the flux phase. We argue that this effective theory is consistent with the deconfinement of the spinons carrying the fundamental charge of the gauge group. We contrast this result with the study of the one-dimensional quantum antiferromagnet within the same approach. We show that in the one-dimensional model, the spinons of the gauge picture are always confined and thus cannot be identified with the gapless spin-1/2 excitations of the quantum antiferromagnet Heisenberg model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5200-5219
Number of pages20
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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