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Disorder Driven Transitions in Non-Equilibrium Quantum Systems


Titum, Paraj (2016) Disorder Driven Transitions in Non-Equilibrium Quantum Systems. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9MK69VV.


This thesis presents studies of the role of disorder in non-equilibrium quantum systems. The quantum states relevant to dynamics in these systems are very different from the ground state of the Hamiltonian. Two distinct systems are studied, (i) periodically driven Hamiltonians in two dimensions, and (ii) electrons in a one-dimensional lattice with power-law decaying hopping amplitudes. In the first system, the novel phases that are induced from the interplay of periodic driving, topology and disorder are studied. In the second system, the Anderson transition in all the eigenstates of the Hamiltonian are studied, as a function of the power-law exponent of the hopping amplitude.

In periodically driven systems the study focuses on the effect of disorder in the nature of the topology of the steady states. First, we investigate the robustness to disorder of Floquet topological insulators (FTIs) occurring in semiconductor quantum wells. Such FTIs are generated by resonantly driving a transition between the valence and conduction band. We show that when disorder is added, the topological nature of such FTIs persists as long as there is a gap at the resonant quasienergy. For strong enough disorder, this gap closes and all the states become localized as the system undergoes a transition to a trivial insulator.

Interestingly, the effects of disorder are not necessarily adverse, disorder can also induce a transition from a trivial to a topological system, thereby establishing a Floquet Topological Anderson Insulator (FTAI). Such a state would be a dynamical realization of the topological Anderson insulator. We identify the conditions on the driving field necessary for observing such a transition. We realize such a disorder induced topological Floquet spectrum in the driven honeycomb lattice and quantum well models.

Finally, we show that two-dimensional periodically driven quantum systems with spatial disorder admit a unique topological phase, which we call the anomalous Floquet-Anderson insulator (AFAI). The AFAI is characterized by a quasienergy spectrum featuring chiral edge modes coexisting with a fully localized bulk. Such a spectrum is impossible for a time-independent, local Hamiltonian. These unique characteristics of the AFAI give rise to a new topologically protected nonequilibrium transport phenomenon: quantized, yet nonadiabatic, charge pumping. We identify the topological invariants that distinguish the AFAI from a trivial, fully localized phase, and show that the two phases are separated by a phase transition.

The thesis also present the study of disordered systems using Wegner's Flow equations. The Flow Equation Method was proposed as a technique for studying excited states in an interacting system in one dimension. We apply this method to a one-dimensional tight binding problem with power-law decaying hoppings. This model presents a transition as a function of the exponent of the decay. It is shown that the the entire phase diagram, i.e. the delocalized, critical and localized phases in these systems can be studied using this technique. Based on this technique, we develop a strong-bond renormalization group that procedure where we solve the Flow Equations iteratively. This renormalization group approach provides a new framework to study the transition in this system.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Disorder, Floquet topological insulators, Wegner flow equations
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Refael, Gil
Group:Institute for Quantum Information and Matter
Thesis Committee:
  • Refael, Gil (chair)
  • Alicea, Jason F.
  • Motrunich, Olexei I.
  • Lindner, Netanel H.
  • Hsieh, David
Defense Date:23 May 2016
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05262016-092645359
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemArticle: Anomalous Floquet-Anderson Insulator as a Nonadiabatic Quantized Charge Pump ItemArticle: Disorder-Induced Floquet Topological Insulators
Titum, Paraj0000-0002-7792-1532
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9763
Deposited By: Paraj Bhattacharjee
Deposited On:07 Jun 2016 19:33
Last Modified:02 Jun 2020 21:48

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