Electron fractionalization in two-dimensional graphenelike structures

Phys Rev Lett. 2007 May 4;98(18):186809. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.98.186809. Epub 2007 May 4.


Electron fractionalization is intimately related to topology. In one-dimensional systems, fractionally charged states exist at domain walls between degenerate vacua. In two-dimensional systems, fractionalization exists in quantum Hall fluids, where time-reversal symmetry is broken by a large external magnetic field. Recently, there has been a tremendous effort in the search for examples of fractionalization in two-dimensional systems with time-reversal symmetry. In this Letter, we show that fractionally charged topological excitations exist on graphenelike structures, where quasiparticles are described by two flavors of Dirac fermions and time-reversal symmetry is respected. The topological zero modes are mathematically similar to fractional vortices in p-wave superconductors. They correspond to a twist in the phase in the mass of the Dirac fermions, akin to cosmic strings in particle physics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.