Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Dr. Ribhu Kaul


This work focuses on numerical studies of quantum spin systems. These simple models are known to exhibit a variety of phases, some of which have no classical counterpart. Phase transitions between them are driven by quantum fluctuations and the unconventional nature of some such transitions make them a fascinating avenue of study.

Quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) is an indispensable tool in the study of these phases and phase transitions in two and higher dimensions. Nevertheless, we are limited by our inability to simulate models that suffer from the infamous sign problem. While the case of S=1/2 has been studied extensively due to availability of sign problem free models, not much progress has been made for higher S. In a first part of this dissertation, a systematic procedure to write down a large family of ``designer hamiltonians'', i.e. models constructed to be free from the sign problem (``de-signed''), for arbitrary spin-S is given. Three applications of this procedure are also presented. As a first application, a S=1 interaction is constructed on the square lattice realizing a novel ``Haldane Nematic (HN)'' phase that breaks the lattice rotational symmetry while preserving lattice translational symmetry and spin rotational symmetry. By supplementing our model with a two-spin Heisenberg interaction, a study of the transition between the antiferromagnetic and HN phase is presented, which we find to be of first order. In a second application, the antiferromagnetic to four-fold columnar valence bond solid (cVBS) phase transition in a sign free S=1 square lattice model is studied. Our simulations provide unambiguous evidence for a direct conventional first-order quantum phase transition demonstrating a sharp contrast with the S=1/2 case, where this transition is a prototypical example of an unconventional continuous transition. In our third application, all possible sign-free two-site spin-S interactions are constructed and the phases that are realized by these new nearest neighbour models are investigated on the square lattice.

In a second part, the superfluid-VBS quantum phase transition is studied in a spin model in presence of easy plane anisotropy, i.e. spins preferentially align in a plane. The model studied is an interpolation of two models: (a) a rotationally symmetric model that appears to host a continuous transition even on the biggest lattices studied (b) the other is an easy plane version of the aforementioned model that clearly shows a first order transition even on relatively small lattices. In our simulations, the nature of the transition was found to be first order in the presence of an easy plane anisotropy, indicating the superfluid-VBS transition in the two-component easy plane model is generically discontinuous.

In a third part, we study the SU(N) generalization of the Heisenberg antiferromagnet on the BCC lattice. Our numerical studies of the model show that magnetic order present for N=2 is destroyed for N>15 and valence bond solid order is observed for N>16. The nature of the phase at N=16 and the nature of the phase transition between different phases is investigated.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

National science foundation grant DMR-1611161: July 2019- June 2020

Keith B. MacAdam Graduate Excellence Fellowship: July 2018- June 19