Absence of topological insulator phases in non-Hermitian PT-symmetric Hamiltonians

Yi Chen Hu, Taylor L. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this work, we consider a generalization of the symmetry classification of topological insulators to non-Hermitian Hamiltonians, which satisfy a combined PT symmetry (parity and time reversal). We show via examples and explicit proofs from separate bulk and gapless boundary-state perspectives that the typical paradigm of forming topological insulator states from Dirac Hamiltonians is not compatible with the construction of non-Hermitian PT-symmetric Hamiltonians. The topological insulator states are PT-breaking phases and have energy spectra that are complex (not real) and, thus, are not consistent quantum theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number153101
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Oct 7 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Absence of topological insulator phases in non-Hermitian PT-symmetric Hamiltonians'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this