Is the continuum SSH model topological?

Jacob Shapiro, Michael I. Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The discrete Hamiltonian of Su, Schrieffer, and Heeger (SSH) [Phys. Rev. Lett. 42, 1698-1701 (1979)] is a well-known one-dimensional translation-invariant model in condensed matter physics. The model consists of two atoms per unit cell and describes in-cell and out-of-cell electron-hopping between two sub-lattices. It is among the simplest models exhibiting a non-trivial topological phase; to the SSH Hamiltonian, one can associate a winding number, the Zak phase, which depends on the ratio of hopping coefficients and takes on values 0 and 1 labeling the two distinct phases. We display two homotopically equivalent continuum Hamiltonians whose tight binding limits are SSH models with different topological indices. The topological character of the SSH model is, therefore, an emergent rather than fundamental property, associated with emergent chiral or sublattice symmetry in the tight-binding limit. In order to establish that the tight-binding limit of these continuum Hamiltonians is the SSH model, we extend our recent results on the tight-binding approximation [J. Shapiro and M. I. Weinstein, Adv. Math. 403, 108343 (2022)] to lattices, which depend on the tight-binding asymptotic parameter λ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111901
JournalJournal of Mathematical Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


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