Irrational charge from topological order

R. Moessner, S. L. Sondhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Topological or deconfined phases of matter exhibit emergent gauge fields and quasiparticles that carry a corresponding gauge charge. In systems with an intrinsic conserved U(1) charge, such as all electronic systems where the Coulombic charge plays this role, these quasiparticles are also characterized by their intrinsic charge. We show that one can take advantage of the topological order fairly generally to produce periodic Hamiltonians which endow the quasiparticles with continuously variable, generically irrational, intrinsic charges. Examples include various topologically ordered lattice models, the three-dimensional resonating valence bond liquid on bipartite lattices as well as water and spin ice. By contrast, the gauge charges of the quasiparticles retain their quantized values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number166401
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Oct 12 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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