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Dynamics of nonequilibrium magnons in gapped Heisenberg antiferromagnets

by Chengyun Hua, Lucas R Lindsay, Yuya Shinohara, David A Tennant
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Physical Review B
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Nonequilibrium dynamics in spin systems is a topic currently under intense investigation as it provides fundamental insights into thermalization, universality, and exotic transport phenomena. While most of the studies have been focused on ideal closed quantum many-body systems such as ultracold atomic quantum gases and one-dimensional spin chains, driven-dissipative Bose gases in steady states away from equilibrium in classical systems also lead to intriguing nonequilibrium physics. In this work, we theoretically investigate out-of-equilibrium dynamics of magnons in a gapped Heisenberg quantum antiferromagnet based on Boltzmann transport theory. We show that, by treating scattering terms beyond the relaxation-time approximation in the Boltzmann transport equation, energy and particle number conservation mandate that nonequilibrium magnons cannot relax to equilibrium, but decay to other nonequilibrium stationary states. The only decay channel for these stationary states back to equilibrium is through the nonconserving interactions (i.e., changing particle number and/or energy within the magnon system) such as boundary or magnon-phonon scattering. At low temperatures, these nonconserving interactions are much slower processes than intrinsic magnon-magnon interaction in a gapped spin system. Using magnon-phonon interaction as a quintessential type of nonconserving interaction, we then propose that nonequilibrium steady states of magnons can be maintained and tailored using periodic driving at frequencies faster than relaxation due to phonon interactions. These findings reveal a class of classical material systems that are suitable platforms to study nonequilibrium statistical physics and macroscopic phenomena such as classical Bose-Einstein condensation of quasiparticles and magnon supercurrents that are relevant for spintronic applications.