Variational Monte Carlo method in the presence of spin-orbit interaction and its application to Kitaev and Kitaev-Heisenberg models

Moyuru Kurita, Youhei Yamaji, Satoshi Morita, Masatoshi Imada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We propose an accurate variational Monte Carlo method applicable in the presence of the strong spin-orbit interactions. The algorithm is applicable even in a wider class of Hamiltonians that do not have the spin-rotational symmetry. Our variational wave functions consist of generalized Pfaffian-Slater wave functions that involve mixtures of singlet and triplet Cooper pairs, Jastrow-Gutzwiller-type projections, and quantum number projections. The generalized wave functions allow describing states including a wide class of symmetry-broken states, ranging from magnetic and/or charge ordered states to superconducting states and their fluctuations, on equal footing without any ad hoc ansatz for variational wave functions. We detail our optimization scheme for the generalized Pfaffian-Slater wave functions with complex-number variational parameters. Generalized quantum number projections are also introduced, which imposes the conservation of not only the momentum quantum number but also Wilson loops. As a demonstration of the capability of the present variational Monte Carlo method, the accuracy and efficiency is tested for the Kitaev and Kitaev-Heisenberg models, which lack the SU(2) spin-rotational symmetry except at the Heisenberg limit. The Kitaev model serves as a critical benchmark of the present method: The exact ground state of the model is a typical gapless quantum spin liquid far beyond the reach of simple mean-field wave functions. The newly introduced quantum number projections precisely reproduce the ground state degeneracy of the Kitaev spin liquids, in addition to their ground state energy. An application to a closely related itinerant model described by a multiorbital Hubbard model with the spin-orbit interaction also shows promising benchmark results. The strong-coupling limit of the multiorbital Hubbard model is indeed described by the Kitaev model. Our framework offers accurate solutions for the systems where strong electron correlation and spin-orbit interaction coexist.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035122
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 10
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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