The Dirac spin liquid ground state of the spin 1/2 Heisenberg kagome antiferromagnet has potential instabilities. This has been suggested as the reason why it does not emerge as the ground state in large-scale numerical calculations. However, previous attempts to observe these instabilities have failed. We report on the discovery of a projected BCS state with lower energy than the projected Dirac spin liquid state which provides new insight into the stability of the ground state of the kagome antiferromagnet. The new state has three remarkable features. First, it breaks spatial symmetry in an unusual way that may leave spinons deconfined along one direction. Second, it breaks the U(1) gauge symmetry down to Z2. Third, it has the spatial symmetry of a previously proposed "monopole" suggesting that it is an instability of the Dirac spin liquid. The state described herein also shares a remarkable similarity to the distortion of the kagome lattice observed at low Zn concentrations in Zn-paratacamite and in recently grown single crystals of volborthite suggesting it may already be realized in these materials.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)