Criticality and Frustration: Classical and Quantum Spin Models in Two Dimensions
We investigate two-dimensional spin models and begin with an introduction to critical phenomena with emphasis on classical systems with boundaries and conformal invariance. Then we introduce the antiferromagnetic quantum Heisenberg model with frustrating interactions.
Conformal invariance of a statistical mechanical system at criticality has powerful implications in two dimensions. With the use of conformal field theory, we investigate finite-size and boundary effects for a class of N-critical models that describe the simplest type of multicritical behaviour. In Papers I and II, correlation functions for the order parameter and other operators of these multicritical Ising models are derived for restricted domains (semi-infinite plane, infinite strip, disc and rectangle) with free or fixed boundary conditions. These yield the corresponding universal surface exponents and allow for a detailed analysis of correlations lengths, structure factors and response functions. The interplay between duality and boundary conditions is also made explicit. In Paper III, we analyse structure factors at criticality and show how apparent power- law scaling at intermediate momenta - induced by finite size and boundaries - depends on the boundary conditions applied. The predictions are confirmed by using correlation functions calculated in Papers I and II.
Two-dimensional Heisenberg antiferromagnets have attracted much attention because of their relation to high-Tc superconductors. The second part of the thesis (Papers IV and V) treats spin-1/2 antiferromagnets defined on square- and honeycomb lattices with frustrating interactions. By using a Schwinger-boson mean-field theory, we calculate low-temperature quantum corrections to thermodynamic parameters, such as spin-wave velocity and transverse susceptibility. Their dependence on frustration is explicated and used to estimate the stability of the Néel state via a mapping to the nonlinear .sigma. model that describes the low-energy limit of the antiferromagnet.