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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Mar 24;96(11):110404. Epub 2006 Mar 24.

Topological entanglement entropy.

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Institute for Quantum Information, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


We formulate a universal characterization of the many-particle quantum entanglement in the ground state of a topologically ordered two-dimensional medium with a mass gap. We consider a disk in the plane, with a smooth boundary of length L, large compared to the correlation length. In the ground state, by tracing out all degrees of freedom in the exterior of the disk, we obtain a marginal density operator rho for the degrees of freedom in the interior. The von Neumann entropy of rho, a measure of the entanglement of the interior and exterior variables, has the form S(rho) = alphaL - gamma + ..., where the ellipsis represents terms that vanish in the limit L --> infinity. We show that - gamma is a universal constant characterizing a global feature of the entanglement in the ground state. Using topological quantum field theory methods, we derive a formula for gamma in terms of properties of the superselection sectors of the medium.

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