Dimerized Solids and Resonating Plaquette Order in SU(N)-Dirac Fermions
Phys. Rev. Lett., 111 (6), 066401, (2013)
We study the quantum phases of fermions with an explicit SU(N)-symmetric, Heisenberg-like nearest-neighbor flavor exchange interaction on the honeycomb lattice at half-filling. Employing projective (zero temperature) quantum Monte Carlo simulations for even values of N, we explore the evolution from a weak-coupling semimetal into the strong-coupling, insulating regime. Furthermore, we compare our numerical results to a saddle-point approximation in the large-N limit. From the large-N regime down to the SU(6) case, the insulating state is found to be a columnar valence bond crystal, with a direct transition to the semimetal at weak, finite coupling, in agreement with the mean-field result in the large-N limit. At SU(4) however, the insulator exhibits a subtly different valence bond crystal structure, stabilized by resonating valence bond plaquettes. In the SU(2) limit, our results support a direct transition between the semimetal and an antiferromagnetic insulator.