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Interaction-Driven Topological Insulator in Fermionic Cold Atoms on an Optical Lattice: A Design with a Density Functional Formalism

Kitamura, S.; Tsuji, N.; Aoki, H.

Physical Review Letters 115(4): 045304

2015

We design an interaction-driven topological insulator for fermionic cold atoms in an optical lattice; that is, we pose the question of whether we can realize in a continuous space a spontaneous symmetry breaking induced by the interatom interaction into a topological Chern insulator. Such a state, sometimes called a "topological Mott insulator," has yet to be realized in solid-state systems, since this requires, in the tight-binding model, large off-site interactions on top of a small on-site interaction. Here, we overcome the difficulty by introducing a spin-dependent potential, where a spin-selective occupation of fermions in A and B sublattices makes the on-site interaction Pauli forbidden, while a sizeable intersite interaction is achieved by a shallow optical potential with a large overlap between neighboring Wannier orbitals. This puts the system away from the tight-binding model, so that we adopt density functional theory for cold atoms, here extended to accommodate noncollinear spin structures emerging in the topological regime, to quantitatively demonstrate the phase transition to the topological Mott insulator.

Related references

**Molecules of fermionic atoms in an optical lattice**. Physical Review Letters 96(3): 030401, 2006

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