Topological blocking in quantum quench dynamics

G. Kells, D. Sen, J. K. Slingerland, S. Vishveshwara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the nonequilibrium dynamics of quenching through a quantum critical point in topological systems, focusing on one of their defining features: ground-state degeneracies and associated topological sectors. We present the notion of "topological blocking," experienced by the dynamics due to a mismatch in degeneracies between two phases, and we argue that the dynamic evolution of the quench depends strongly on the topological sector being probed. We demonstrate this interplay between quench and topology in models stemming from two extensively studied systems, the transverse Ising chain and the Kitaev honeycomb model. Through nonlocal maps of each of these systems, we effectively study spinless fermionic p-wave paired topological superconductors. Confining the systems to ring and toroidal geometries, respectively, enables us to cleanly address degeneracies, subtle issues of fermion occupation and parity, and mismatches between topological sectors. We show that various features of the quench, which are related to Kibble-Zurek physics, are sensitive to the topological sector being probed, in particular, the overlap between the time-evolved initial ground state and an appropriate low-energy state of the final Hamiltonian. While most of our study is confined to translationally invariant systems, where momentum is a convenient quantum number, we briefly consider the effect of disorder and illustrate how this can influence the quench in a qualitatively different way depending on the topological sector considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number235130
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 26 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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