Quantum simulation: chiral spin liquids and non-Abelian anyons

23 May 2023

New study suggests pathway toward investigating chiral spin liquids.

Chiral spin liquids are one of the most fascinating phases of matter. These exotic liquids exhibit quasi-particle excitations known as non-Abelian anyons that are neither bosons nor fermions, whose manipulation could allow for the realization of a universal quantum computer. Despite intense efforts in condensed matter physics, discovering such a phase in nature remains an outstanding challenge. A new study in the scientific journal PRX Quantum, involving LMU professor Monika Aidelsburger, now proposes a method to experimentally study this phase of matter in a quantum simulator.

From a theoretical point of view, chiral spin liquids emerge in a simple model, the so-called Kitaev model, which allows to reveal their properties using analytical tools. The advances in quantum simulator design described in the paper now open a possible path for the first realistic implementation of the original Kitaev model, hence suggesting that chiral spin liquids (including their exotic quasi-particles) can be studied and manipulated in a highly-controlled experimental environment.

The authors describe practical methods to probe the striking properties of these exotic states. In particular, their methods unambiguously reveal the topological heat current that flows on the edge of the system: a hallmark signature of the non-Abelian anyons that emerge on the edge of chiral spin liquids.

Their work paves the way for the quantum simulation of chiral spin liquids, offering an appealing alternative to their experimental investigation in quantum materials.

Bo-Ye Sun, Nathan Goldman, Monika Aidelsburger, Marin Bukov: Engineering and Probing Non-Abelian Chiral Spin Liquids Using Periodically Driven Ultracold Atoms. PRX Quantum 2023

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