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Publication# Local Theory of the Insulating State

Abstract

An insulator differs from a metal because of a different organization of the electrons in their ground state. In recent years this feature has been probed by means of a geometrical property, the quantum metric tensor, which addresses the system as a whole, and is therefore limited to macroscopically homogenous samples. Here we show that an analogous approach leads to a localization marker, which can detect the metallic versus insulating character of a given sample region using as the sole ingredient the ground state electron distribution, even in the Anderson case (where the spectrum is gapless). When applied to an insulator with a nonzero Chern invariant, our marker is capable of discriminating the insulating nature of the bulk from the conducting nature of the boundary. Simulations (both model Hamiltonian and first principles) on several test cases validate our theory.

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Related concepts (2)

Geometry

Geometry (; ) is a branch of mathematics concerned with properties of space such as the distance, shape, size, and relative position of figures. Geometry is, along with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics. A mathematician who works in the field of geometry is called a geometer. Until the 19th century, geometry was almost exclusively devoted to Euclidean geometry, which includes the notions of point, line, plane, distance, angle, surface, and curve, as fundamental concepts.

Ground state

The ground state of a quantum-mechanical system is its stationary state of lowest energy; the energy of the ground state is known as the zero-point energy of the system. An excited state is any state with energy greater than the ground state. In quantum field theory, the ground state is usually called the vacuum state or the vacuum. If more than one ground state exists, they are said to be degenerate. Many systems have degenerate ground states.