Topological superconducting phases from inversion symmetry breaking order in spin-orbit-coupled systems

Yuxuan Wang, Gil Young Cho, Taylor L. Hughes, Eduardo Fradkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyze the superconducting instabilities in the vicinity of the quantum-critical point of an inversion symmetry breaking order. We first show that the fluctuations of the inversion symmetry breaking order lead to two degenerate superconducting (SC) instabilities, one in the s-wave channel, and the other in a time-reversal invariant odd-parity pairing channel (the simplest case being the same as the of He3-B phase). Remarkably, we find that unlike many well-known examples, the selection of the pairing symmetry of the condensate is independent of the momentum-space structure of the collective mode that mediates the pairing interaction. We found that this degeneracy is a result of the existence of a conserved fermionic helicity χ, and the two degenerate channels correspond to even and odd combinations of SC order parameters with χ=±1. As a result, the system has an enlarged symmetry U(1)×U(1), with each U(1) corresponding to one value of the helicity χ. Because of the enlarged symmetry, this system admits exotic topological defects such as a fractional quantum vortex, which we show has a Majorana zero mode bound at its core. We discuss how the enlarged symmetry can be lifted by small perturbations, such as the Coulomb interaction or Fermi surface splitting in the presence of broken inversion symmetry, and we show that the resulting superconducting state can be topological or trivial depending on parameters. The U(1)×U(1) symmetry is restored at the phase boundary between the topological and trivial SC states, and allows for a transition between topologically distinct SC phases without the vanishing of the order parameter. We present a global phase diagram of the superconducting states and discuss possible experimental implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134512
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 21 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Topological superconducting phases from inversion symmetry breaking order in spin-orbit-coupled systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this