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Special ICMT Seminar: "Fractionalization from Crystallography"

SpeakerDr. Siddharth Parameswaran, University of California,  Berkeley
Date Nov 14, 2013 - Nov 15, 2013
Time 2:00 pm  
Location 280 MRL
Sponsor Dept. of Physics
Contact Becky McDuffee
Phone 217-244-4268
Event type ICMT Seminar
Views 1447

A standard tenet of condensed matter physics is that when a crystal with a partially filled energy band is forced to insulate, interesting physics must arise.  As band insulators appear only when the filling – the number of electrons per unit cell and spin projection – is an integer, at fractional filling an insulating phase that preserves all symmetries is a Mott insulator, i.e. it is either gapless or, if gapped, displays fractionalized excitations and topological order.  Remarkably, the little-studied inverse question – whether a 'trivial' band insulator is always possible at integer filling -- has a rich answer involving basic ideas of crystallography. In my talk, I will show that lattice symmetries may forbid a band insulator even at certain integer fillings, if the crystal is *non-symmorphic* – a property of the majority of three-dimensional crystal structures. In these cases, one may infer the existence of topological order and the presence of fractionalized excitations, if the ground state is gapped and fully symmetric -- in other words, these are Mott insulators, but with fully filled bands! This is demonstrated using a non-perturbative flux threading argument, and has immediate applications to quantum spin systems and bosonic insulators in addition to electronic band structures in the absence of spin-orbit interactions [1]. Along the way, we are led naturally to systematic methods for constructing symmetric gapped ground states for interacting boson and spin models on generic symmorphic lattices [2, 3]. This work also has implications for the understanding of topological crystalline insulators, which I will comment on briefly.


[1] S.A. Parameswaran, A. M. Turner, D.P. Arovas & A. Vishwanath, Nature Physics 9, 299 (2013)

[2] I. Kimchi, S.A. Parameswaran, A. M. Turner, F. Wang & A. Vishwanath, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci 110, 16378 (2013).

[3] S.A. Parameswaran, I. Kimchi, A. M. Turner, D. M. Stamper-Kurn & A. Vishwanath, Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 125301 (2013).

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