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Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Sep 20;111(12):120402. Epub 2013 Sep 20.

Detecting topological phases in cold atoms.

Author information

1
Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA and Department of Physics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China and Institute for Advanced Study, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China.

Abstract

Chern insulators are band insulators which exhibit a gap in the bulk and gapless excitations in the edge. Detection of Chern insulators is a serious challenge in cold atoms since the Hall transport measurements are technically unrealistic for neutral atoms. By establishing a natural correspondence between the time-reversal invariant topological insulator and the quantum anomalous Hall system, we show for a class of Chern insulators that the topology can be determined by only measuring Bloch eigenstates at highly symmetric points of the Brillouin zone. Furthermore, we introduce two experimental schemes, including the spin-resolved Bloch oscillation, to carry out the measurement. These schemes are highly feasible under realistic experimental conditions. Our results may provide a powerful tool to detect topological phases in cold atoms.

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