Theory of nematic fractional quantum hall states

Yizhi You, Gil Young Cho, Eduardo Fradkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We derive an effective field theory for the isotropic-nematic quantum phase transition of fractional quantum Hall states. We demonstrate that for a system with an isotropic background the low-energy effective theory of the nematic order parameter has z = 2 dynamical scaling exponent, due to a Berry phase term of the order parameter, which is related to the nondissipative Hall viscosity. Employing the composite fermion theory with a quadrupolar interaction between electrons, we show that a sufficiently attractive quadrupolar interaction triggers a phase transition from the isotropic fractional quantum Hall fluid into a nematic fractional quantum Hall phase. By investigating the spectrum of collective excitations, we demonstrate that the mass gap of the Girvin-MacDonald-Platzman mode collapses at the isotropic-nematic quantum phase transition. On the other hand, Laughlin quasiparticles and the Kohn collective mode remain gapped at this quantum phase transition, and Kohn's theorem is satisfied. The leading couplings between the nematic order parameter and the gauge fields include a term of the same form as the Wen-Zee term. A disclination of the nematic order parameter carries an unquantized electric charge. We also discuss the relation between nematic degrees of freedom and the geometrical response of the fractional quantum Hall fluid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number041050
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Condensed matter physics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Theory of nematic fractional quantum hall states'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this