Fractonic Chern-Simons and BF theories

Yizhi You, Trithep Devakul, S. L. Sondhi, F. J. Burnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Fracton order is an intriguing new type of order which shares many common features with topological order, such as topology-dependent ground-state degeneracies, and excitations with mutual statistics. However, it also has several distinctive geometrical aspects, such as excitations with restricted mobility, which naturally lead to effective descriptions in terms of higher-rank gauge fields. In this paper, we investigate possible effective field theories for three-dimensional fracton order, by presenting a general philosophy whereby topological-like actions for such higher-rank gauge fields can be constructed. Our approach draws inspiration from Chern-Simons and BF theories in 2+1 dimensions, and imposes constraints binding higher-rank gauge charge to higher-rank gauge flux. We show that the resulting fractonic Chern-Simons and BF theories reproduce many of the interesting features of their familiar two-dimensional cousins. We analyze one example of the resulting fractonic Chern-Simons theory in detail, and show that upon quantization it realizes a gapped fracton order with quasiparticle excitations that are mobile only along a subset of one-dimensional lines, and display a form of fractional self-statistics. The ground-state degeneracy of this theory is both topology and geometry dependent, scaling exponentially with the linear system size when the model is placed on a three-dimensional torus. By studying the resulting quantum theory on the lattice, we show that it describes a Zs generalization of the Chamon code.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number023249
JournalPhysical Review Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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