Metallic and Deconfined Quantum Criticality in Dirac Systems

Z. H. Liu, M. Vojta, F. F. Assaad, and L. Janssen


Motivated by the physics of spin-orbital liquids, we study a model of interacting Dirac fermions on a bilayer honeycomb lattice at half filling, featuring an explicit global SO(3)×U(1) symmetry. Using large-scale auxiliary-field quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) simulations, we locate two zero-temperature phase transitions as function of increasing interaction strength. First, we observe a continuous transition from the weakly interacting semimetal to a different semimetallic phase in which the SO(3) symmetry is spontaneously broken and where two out of three Dirac cones acquire a mass gap. The associated quantum critical point can be understood in terms of a Gross-Neveu-SO(3) theory. Second, we subsequently observe a transition toward an insulating phase in which the SO(3) symmetry is restored and the U(1) symmetry is spontaneously broken. While strongly first order at the mean-field level, the QMC data are consistent with a direct and continuous transition. It is thus a candidate for a new type of deconfined quantum critical point that features gapless fermionic degrees of freedom.

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