A theory for colors of strongly correlated electronic systems

Swagata Acharya*, Dimitar Pashov, Cedric Weber, Mark van Schilfgaarde, Alexander I. Lichtenstein, Mikhail I. Katsnelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Many strongly correlated transition metal insulators are colored, even though they have band gaps much larger than the highest energy photons from the visible light. An adequate explanation for the color requires a theoretical approach able to compute subgap excitons in periodic crystals, reliably and without free parameters—a formidable challenge. The literature often fails to disentangle two important factors: what makes excitons form and what makes them optically bright. We pick two archetypal cases as examples: NiO with green color and MnF2 with pink color, and employ two kinds of ab initio many body Green’s function theories; the first, a perturbative theory based on low-order extensions of the G W approximation, is able to explain the color in NiO, while the same theory is unable to explain why MnF2 is pink. We show its color originates from higher order spin-flip transitions that modify the optical response, which is contained in dynamical mean-field theory (DMFT). We show that symmetry lowering mechanisms may determine how ‘bright’ these excitons are, but they are not fundamental to their existence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5565
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date9 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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