Edge Reconstruction of a Time-Reversal Invariant Insulator: Compressible-Incompressible Stripes

Udit Khanna, Yuval Gefen, Ora Entin-Wohlman, Amnon Aharony

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Two-dimensional (2D) topological electronic insulators are known to give rise to gapless edge modes, which underlie low energy dynamics, including electrical and thermal transport. This has been thoroughly investigated in the context of quantum Hall phases, and time-reversal invariant topological insulators. Here we study the edge of a 2D, topologically trivial insulating phase, as a function of the strength of the electronic interactions and the steepness of the confining potential. For sufficiently smooth confining potentials, alternating compressible and incompressible stripes appear at the edge. Our findings signal the emergence of gapless edge modes which may give rise to finite conductance at the edge. This would suggest a novel scenario of a nontopological metal-insulator transition in clean 2D systems. The incompressible stripes appear at commensurate fillings and may exhibit broken translational invariance along the edge in the form of charge density wave ordering. These are separated by structureless compressible stripes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number186801
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - 6 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Physical Society.


We acknowledge illuminating discussions with Ganpathy Murthy, Bernd Rosenow, and Niels John. Y. G. was supported by DFG RO 2247/11-1, MI 658/10-1, and CRC 183 (Project No. C01), the Minerva Foundation, the German Israeli Foundation (Grant No. I-118-303.1-2018), the Helmholtz International Fellow Award, and by the Italia-Israel QUANTRA grant. O. E. W. and A. A. acknowledge support by the Pazy Foundation.

FundersFunder number
German Israeli FoundationI-118-303.1-2018
Minerva Foundation
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftRO 2247/11-1, MI 658/10-1, CRC 183
PAZY Foundation


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