Exciton condensation and charge fractionalization in a topological insulator film

Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Aug 7;103(6):066402. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.066402. Epub 2009 Aug 7.


An odd number of gapless Dirac fermions is guaranteed to exist at a surface of a strong topological insulator. We show that in a thin-film geometry and under external bias, electron-hole pairs that reside in these surface states can condense to form a novel exotic quantum state which we propose to call "topological exciton condensate" (TEC). This TEC is similar in general terms to the exciton condensate recently argued to exist in a biased graphene bilayer, but with different topological properties. It exhibits a host of unusual properties including a stable zero mode and a fractional charge +/-e/2 carried by a singly quantized vortex in the TEC order parameter.