Monday, June 17, 2013

1306.3286 (Max A. Metlitski et al.)

A symmetry-respecting topologically-ordered surface phase of 3d electron
topological insulators

Max A. Metlitski, C. L. Kane, Matthew P. A. Fisher
A 3d electron topological insulator (ETI) is a phase of matter protected by particle-number conservation and time-reversal symmetry. It was previously believed that the surface of an ETI must be gapless unless one of these symmetries is broken. A well-known symmetry-preserving, gapless surface termination of an ETI supports an odd number of Dirac cones. In this paper we deduce a symmetry-respecting, gapped surface termination of an ETI, which carries an intrinsic 2d topological order, Moore-Read x anti-semion. The Moore-Read sector supports non-Abelian charge 1/4 anyons, while the Abelian, anti-semion sector is electrically neutral. Time-reversal symmetry is implemented in this surface phase in a highly non-trivial way. Moreover, it is impossible to realize this phase strictly in 2d, simultaneously preserving its implementation of both the particle number and time-reversal symmetries. A 1d edge on the ETI surface between the topologically-ordered phase and the topologically trivial time-reversal-broken phase with a Hall conductivity sigma_H = 1/2, carries a right-moving neutral Majorana mode, a right-moving bosonic charge mode and a left-moving bosonic neutral mode. The topologically-ordered phase is separated from the surface superconductor by a direct second order phase transition in the XY* universality class, which is driven by the condensation of a charge 1/2 boson, when approached from the topologically-ordered side, and proliferation of a flux 4\pi-vortex, when approached from the superconducting side. In addition, we prove that time-reversal invariant (interacting) electron insulators with no intrinsic topological order and electromagnetic response characterized by a \theta-angle, \theta = \pi, do not exist if the electrons transform as Kramers singlets under time-reversal.
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