Theses Doctoral

Many-body theory of pyrochlore iridates and related materials

Wang, Runzhi

In this thesis we focus on two problems. First we propose a numerical method for generating optimized Wannier functions with desired properties. Second we perform the state of the art density functional plus dynamical mean-field calculations in pyrochlore iridates, to investigate the physics induced by the cooperation of spin-orbit coupling and electron correlation.
We begin with the introduction for maximally localized Wannier functions and other related extensions. Then we describe the current research in the field of spin-orbit coupling and its interplay with correlation effects, followed by a brief introduction of the `hot' materials of iridates. Before the end of the introduction, we discuss the numerical methods employed in our work, including the density functional theory; dynamical mean-field theory and its combination with the exact diagonalization impurity solver.
Then we propose our approach for constructing an optimized set of Wannier functions, which is a generalization of the functionality of the classic maximal localization method put forward by Marzari and Vanderbilt. Our work is motivated by the requirement of the effective description of the local subspace of the Hamiltonian by the beyond density functional theory methods. In extensions of density functional theory such as dynamical mean-field theory, one may want highly accurate description of particular local orbitals, including correct centers and symmetries; while the basis for the remaining degrees of freedom is unimportant. Therefore, we develop the selectively localized Wannier function approach which allows for a greater localization in the selected subset of Wannier functions and at the same time allows us to fix the centers and ensure the point symmetries. Applications in real materials are presented to demonstrate the power of our approach.
Next we move to the investigation of pyrochlore iridates, focussing on the metal-insulator transition and material dependence in these compounds. We perform combined density functional plus dynamical mean-field calculations in Lu$_2$Ir$_2$O$_7$, Y$_2$Ir$_2$O$_7$, Eu$_2$Ir$_2$O$_7$, with spin-orbit coupling included and both single-site and cluster approximations appiled. A broad range of Weyl metal is predicted as the intervening phase in the metal-insulator transition. By comparing to experiments, we find that the single-site approximation fails to predict the gap values and substantial difference between the Y and Eu-compound, demonstrating the inadequacy of this approximation and indicating the key role played by the intersite effects.
Finally, we provide a more accurate description of the vicinity of the metal-insulator and topological transitions implied by density functional plus cluster dynamical mean-field calculations of pyrochlore iridates. We find definitive evidence of the Weyl semimetal phase, the electronic structure of which can be approximately described as ``Weyl rings" with an extremely flat dispersion of one of the Weyl bands. This Weyl semimetal phase is further investigated by the $k\cdot p$ analysis fitting to the numerical results. We find that this unusual structure leads to interesting behavior in the optical conductivity including a Hall effect in the interband component, and to an enhanced susceptibility.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Millis, Andrew J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 19, 2018