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Bose metals and insulators on multileg ladders with ring exchange

We establish compelling evidence for the existence of new quasi-one-dimensional descendants of the d-wave Bose liquid (DBL), an exotic two-dimensional quantum phase of uncondensed itinerant bosons characterized by surfaces of gapless excitations in momentum space [ O. I. Motrunich and M. P. A. Fisher Phys. Rev. B 75 235116 (2007)]. In particular, motivated by a strong-coupling analysis of the gauge theory for the DBL, we study a model of hard-core bosons moving on the N-leg square ladder with frustrating four-site ring exchange. Here, we focus on four- and three-leg systems where we have identified two novel phases: a compressible gapless Bose metal on the four-leg ladder and an incompressible gapless Mott insulator on the three-leg ladder. The former is conducting along the ladder and has five gapless modes, one more than the number of legs. This represents a significant step forward in establishing the potential stability of the DBL in two dimensions. The latter, on the other hand, is a fundamentally quasi-one-dimensional phase that is insulating along the ladder but has two gapless modes and incommensurate power-law transverse density-density correlations. While we have already presented results on this latter phase elsewhere [ M. S. Block et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 106 046402 (2011)], we will expand upon those results in this work. In both cases, we can understand the nature of the phase using slave-particle-inspired variational wave functions consisting of a product of two distinct Slater determinants, the properties of which compare impressively well to a density matrix renormalization group solution of the model Hamiltonian. Stability arguments are made in favor of both quantum phases by accessing the universal low-energy physics with a bosonization analysis of the appropriate quasi-1D gauge theory. We will briefly discuss the potential relevance of these findings to high-temperature superconductors, cold atomic gases, and frustrated quantum magnets.

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