Topology invisible to eigenvalues in obstructed atomic insulators

Jennifer Cano, L. Elcoro, M. I. Aroyo, B. Andrei Bernevig, Barry Bradlyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We consider the extent to which symmetry eigenvalues reveal the topological character of bands. Specifically, we compare distinct atomic limit phases (band representations) that share the same irreducible representations (irreps) at all points in the Brillouin zone and, therefore, appear equivalent in a classification based on eigenvalues. We derive examples where such "irrep-equivalent"phases can be distinguished by a quantized Berry phase or generalization thereof. These examples constitute a generalization of the Su-Schrieffer-Heeger chain: neither phase is topological, in the sense that localized Wannier functions exist, yet there is a topological obstruction between them. We refer to two phases as "Berry obstructed atomic limits"if they have the same irreps, but differ by Berry phases. This is a distinct notion from eigenvalue obstructed atomic limits, which differ in their symmetry irreps at some point in the Brillouin zone. We compute exhaustive lists of elementary band representations that are irrep equivalent, in all space groups, with and without time-reversal symmetry and spin-orbit coupling, and use group theory to derive a set of necessary conditions for irrep equivalence. Finally, we conjecture, and in some cases prove, that irrep-equivalent elementary band representations that are not equivalent can be distinguished by a topological invariant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125115
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 15 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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