Interaction-induced topological insulator states in strained graphene

D. A. Abanin, D. A. Pesin

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45 Scopus citations


The electronic properties of graphene can be manipulated via mechanical deformations, which opens prospects for both studying the Dirac fermions in new regimes and for new device applications. Certain natural configurations of strain generate large nearly uniform pseudomagnetic fields, which have opposite signs in the two valleys, and give rise to flat spin- and valley-degenerate pseudo-Landau levels (PLLs). Here we consider the effect of the Coulomb interactions in strained graphene with a uniform pseudomagnetic field. We show that the spin or valley degeneracies of the PLLs get lifted by the interactions, giving rise to topological insulator states. In particular, when a nonzero PLL is quarter or three-quarter filled, an anomalous quantum Hall state spontaneously breaking time-reversal symmetry emerges. At half-filled PLLs, a weak spin-orbital interaction stabilizes the time-reversal-symmetric quantum spin-Hall state. These many-body states are characterized by the quantized conductance and persist to a high temperature scale set by the Coulomb interactions, which we estimate to be a few hundreds Kelvin at moderate strain values. At fractional fillings, fractional quantum Hall states breaking valley symmetry emerge. These results suggest a new route to realizing robust topological states in mesoscopic graphene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number066802
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 8 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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