D-algebra structure of topological insulators

B. Estienne, N. Regnault, B. A. Bernevig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In the quantum Hall effect, the density operators at different wave vectors generally do not commute and give rise to the Girvin-MacDonald-Plazmann (GMP) algebra, with important consequences such as ground-state center-of-mass degeneracy at fractional filling fraction, and W1+∞ symmetry of the filled Landau levels. We show that the natural generalization of the GMP algebra to higher-dimensional topological insulators involves the concept of a D commutator. For insulators in even-dimensional space, the D commutator is isotropic and closes, and its structure factors are proportional to the D/2 Chern number. In odd dimensions, the algebra is not isotropic, contains the weak topological insulator index (layers of the topological insulator in one fewer dimension), and does not contain the Chern-Simons θ form. This algebraic structure paves the way towards the identification of fractional topological insulators through the counting of their excitations. The possible relation to D-dimensional volume-preserving diffeomorphisms and parallel transport of extended objects is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number241104
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 12 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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