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Floquet engineering of axion and high-Chern number phases in a topological insulator under illumination

Mohammad Shafiei, Farhad Fazileh, François M. Peeters, Milorad V. Milošević

SciPost Phys. Core 7, 024 (2024) · published 1 May 2024


Quantum anomalous Hall, high-Chern number, and axion phases in topological insulators are characterized by its Chern invariant C (respectively, C=1, integer C>1, and C=0 with half-quantized Hall conductance of opposite signs on top and bottom surfaces). They are of recent interest because of novel fundamental physics and prospective applications, but identifying and controlling these phases has been challenging in practice. Here we show that these states can be created and switched between in thin films of Bi$_2$Se$_3$ by Floquet engineering, using irradiation by circularly polarized light. We present the calculated phase diagrams of encountered topological phases in Bi$_2$Se$_3$, as a function of wavelength and amplitude of light, as well as sample thickness, after properly taking into account the penetration depth of light and the variation of the gap in the surface states. These findings open pathways towards energy-efficient optoelectronics, advanced sensing, quantum information processing and metrology.

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