We 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 rĂ´le 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.

PB - Springer UR - http://urania.sissa.it/xmlui/handle/1963/34468 N1 - The article is composed of 23 pages and recorded in PDF format U1 - 34642 U2 - Mathematics U4 - 1 U5 - MAT/07 ER -