Topological States and adiabatic pumping in quasicrystals

Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Sep 7;109(10):106402. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.106402. Epub 2012 Sep 4.


The unrelated discoveries of quasicrystals and topological insulators have in turn challenged prevailing paradigms in condensed-matter physics. We find a surprising connection between quasicrystals and topological phases of matter: (i) quasicrystals exhibit nontrivial topological properties and (ii) these properties are attributed to dimensions higher than that of the quasicrystal. Specifically, we show, both theoretically and experimentally, that one-dimensional quasicrystals are assigned two-dimensional Chern numbers and, respectively, exhibit topologically protected boundary states equivalent to the edge states of a two-dimensional quantum Hall system. We harness the topological nature of these states to adiabatically pump light across the quasicrystal. We generalize our results to higher-dimensional systems and other topological indices. Hence, quasicrystals offer a new platform for the study of topological phases while their topology may better explain their surface properties.