We consider a real periodic Schrödinger operator and a physically relevant family of $m \geq 1$ Bloch bands, separated by a gap from the rest of the spectrum, and we investigate the localization properties of the corresponding composite Wannier functions. To this aim, we show that in dimension $d\leq 3$, there exists a global frame consisting of smooth quasi-Bloch functions which are both periodic and time-reversal symmetric. Aiming to applications in computational physics, we provide a constructive algorithm to obtain such a Bloch frame. The construction yields the existence of a basis of composite Wannier functions which are real-valued and almost-exponentially localized. The proof of the main result exploits only the fundamental symmetries of the projector on the relevant bands, allowing applications, beyond the model specified above, to a broad range of gapped periodic quantum systems with a time-reversal symmetry of bosonic type.

1 aFiorenza, Domenico1 aMonaco, Domenico1 aPanati, Gianluca uhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s00023-015-0400-601400nas a2200169 4500008004100000022001400041245007000055210006900125260000800194300001600202490000800218520089300226100002301119700002101142700002101163856004601184 2016 eng d a1432-091600aZ2 Invariants of Topological Insulators as Geometric Obstructions0 aZ2 Invariants of Topological Insulators as Geometric Obstruction cMay a1115–11570 v3433 aWe consider a gapped periodic quantum system with time-reversal symmetry of fermionic (or odd) type, i.e. the time-reversal operator squares to $-\mathbb{1}$. We investigate the existence of periodic and time-reversal invariant Bloch frames in dimensions 2 and 3. In 2d, the obstruction to the existence of such a frame is shown to be encoded in a $\mathbb{Z}_2$-valued topological invariant, which can be computed by a simple algorithm. We prove that the latter agrees with the Fu-Kane index. In 3d, instead, four $\mathbb{Z}_2$ invariants emerge from the construction, again related to the Fu-Kane-Mele indices. When no topological obstruction is present, we provide a constructive algorithm yielding explicitly a periodic and time-reversal invariant Bloch frame. The result is formulated in an abstract setting, so that it applies both to discrete models and to continuous ones.

1 aFiorenza, Domenico1 aMonaco, Domenico1 aPanati, Gianluca uhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s00220-015-2552-002043nas a2200121 4500008004100000245006000041210006000101260001000161520154600171653008801717100002101805856009501826 2015 en d00aGeometric phases in graphene and topological insulators0 aGeometric phases in graphene and topological insulators bSISSA3 aThis thesis collects three of the publications that the candidate produced during his Ph.D. studies. They all focus on geometric phases in solid state physics. We first study topological phases of 2-dimensional periodic quantum systems, in absence of a spectral gap, like e.g. (multilayer) graphene. A topological invariant n_v in Z, baptized eigenspace vorticity, is attached to any intersection of the energy bands, and characterizes the local topology of the eigenprojectors around that intersection. With the help of explicit models, each associated to a value of n_v in Z, we are able to extract the decay at infinity of the single-band Wannier function w in mono- and bilayer graphene, obtaining |w(x)| <= const |x|^{-2} as |x| tends to infinity. Next, we investigate gapped periodic quantum systems, in presence of time-reversal symmetry. When the time-reversal operator Theta is of bosonic type, i.e. it satisfies Theta^2 = 1, we provide an explicit algorithm to construct a frame of smooth, periodic and time-reversal symmetric (quasi-)Bloch functions, or equivalently a frame of almost-exponentially localized, real-valued (composite) Wannier functions, in dimension d <= 3. In the case instead of a fermionic time-reversal operator, satisfying Theta^2 = -1, we show that the existence of such a Bloch frame is in general topologically obstructed in dimension d=2 and d=3. This obstruction is encoded in Z_2-valued topological invariants, which agree with the ones proposed in the solid state literature by Fu, Kane and Mele.10aGeometric phases, graphene, topological insulators, Wannier functions, Bloch frames1 aMonaco, Domenico uhttps://www.math.sissa.it/publication/geometric-phases-graphene-and-topological-insulators01282nas a2200121 4500008004100000245007500041210006900116260001000185520086400195100002901059700002101088856005101109 2015 en d00aStability of closed gaps for the alternating Kronig-Penney Hamiltonian0 aStability of closed gaps for the alternating KronigPenney Hamilt bSISSA3 aWe consider the Kronig-Penney model for a quantum crystal with equispaced periodic delta-interactions of alternating strength. For this model all spectral gaps at the centre of the Brillouin zone are known to vanish, although so far this noticeable property has only been proved through a very delicate analysis of the discriminant of the corresponding ODE and the associated monodromy matrix. We provide a new, alternative proof by showing that this model can be approximated, in the norm resolvent sense, by a model of regular periodic interactions with finite range for which all gaps at the centre of the Brillouin zone are still vanishing. In particular this shows that the vanishing gap property is stable in the sense that it is present also for the "physical" approximants and is not only a feature of the idealised model of zero-range interactions.1 aMichelangeli, Alessandro1 aMonaco, Domenico uhttp://urania.sissa.it/xmlui/handle/1963/3446001557nas a2200121 4500008004100000245012000041210006900161260001300230520109900243100002101342700002101363856005101384 2015 en d00aSymmetry and localization in periodic crystals: triviality of Bloch bundles with a fermionic time-reversal symmetry0 aSymmetry and localization in periodic crystals triviality of Blo bSpringer3 aWe describe some applications of group- and bundle-theoretic methods in solid state physics, showing how symmetries lead to a proof of the localization of electrons in gapped crystalline solids, as e.g. insulators and semiconductors. We shortly review the Bloch-Floquet decomposition of periodic operators, and the related concepts of Bloch frames and composite Wannier functions. We show that the latter are almost-exponentially localized if and only if there exists a smooth periodic Bloch frame, and that the obstruction to the latter condition is the triviality of a Hermitian vector bundle, called the Bloch bundle. The rôle of additional Z_2-symmetries, as time-reversal and space-reflection symmetry, is discussed, showing how time-reversal symmetry implies the triviality of the Bloch bundle, both in the bosonic and in the fermionic case. Moreover, the same Z_2-symmetry allows to define a finer notion of isomorphism and, consequently, to define new topological invariants, which agree with the indices introduced by Fu, Kane and Mele in the context of topological insulators.

1 aMonaco, Domenico1 aPanati, Gianluca uhttp://urania.sissa.it/xmlui/handle/1963/3446801418nas a2200133 4500008004100000245010100041210006900142260003500211520074700246653011900993100002101112700002101133856013001154 2014 en d00aTopological Invariants of Eigenvalue Intersections and Decrease of Wannier Functions in Graphene0 aTopological Invariants of Eigenvalue Intersections and Decrease bJournal of Statistical Physics3 aWe investigate the asymptotic decrease of the Wannier functions for the valence and conduction band of graphene, both in the monolayer and the multilayer case. Since the decrease of the Wannier functions is characterised by the structure of the Bloch eigenspaces around the Dirac points, we introduce a geometric invariant of the family of eigenspaces, baptised eigenspace vorticity. We compare it with the pseudospin winding number. For every value n∈Z of the eigenspace vorticity, we exhibit a canonical model for the local topology of the eigenspaces. With the help of these canonical models, we show that the single band Wannier function w satisfies |w(x)|≤const |x|^{−2} as |x|→∞, both in monolayer and bilayer graphene.

10aWannier functions, Bloch bundles, conical intersections, eigenspace vorticity, pseudospin winding number, graphene1 aMonaco, Domenico1 aPanati, Gianluca uhttps://www.math.sissa.it/publication/topological-invariants-eigenvalue-intersections-and-decrease-wannier-functions-graphene