Effective hydrodynamic field theory and condensation picture of topological insulators

Atma P.O. Chan, Thomas Kvorning, Shinsei Ryu, Eduardo Fradkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


While many features of topological band insulators are commonly discussed at the level of single-particle electron wave functions, such as the gapless Dirac boundary spectrum, it remains elusive to develop a hydrodynamic or collective description of fermionic topological band insulators in 3+1 dimensions. As the Chern-Simons theory for the 2+1-dimensional quantum Hall effect, such a hydrodynamic effective field theory provides a universal description of topological band insulators, even in the presence of interactions, and that of putative fractional topological insulators. In this paper, we undertake this task by using the functional bosonization. The effective field theory in the functional bosonization is written in terms of a two-form gauge field, which couples to a U(1) gauge field that arises by gauging the continuous symmetry of the target system [the U(1) particle number conservation]. Integrating over the U(1) gauge field by using the electromagnetic duality, the resulting theory describes topological band insulators as a condensation phase of the U(1) gauge theory (or as a monopole condensation phase of the dual gauge field). The hydrodynamic description of the surface of topological insulators and the implication of its duality are also discussed. We also touch upon the hydrodynamic theory of fractional topological insulators by using the parton construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number155122
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 14 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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