Topological edge States in the one-dimensional superlattice Bose-Hubbard model

Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Jun 28;110(26):260405. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.260405. Epub 2013 Jun 25.


We analyze interacting ultracold bosonic atoms in a one-dimensional superlattice potential with alternating tunneling rates t1 and t2 and inversion symmetry, which is the bosonic analogue of the Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model. A Z2 topological order parameter is introduced which is quantized for the Mott insulating (MI) phases. Depending on the ratio t1/t2 the n=1/2 MI phase is topologically nontrivial, which results in many-body edge states at open boundaries. In contrast to the Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model the bosonic counterpart lacks chiral symmetry and the edge states are no longer midgap. This leads to a generalization of the bulk-edge correspondence, which we discuss in detail. The edge states can be observed in cold atom experiments by creating a step in the effective confining potential, e.g., by a second heavy atom species, which leads to an interface between two MI regions with filling n=1 and n=1/2. The shape and energy of the edge states as well as the conditions for their occupation are determined analytically in the strong coupling limit and in general by density-matrix renormalization group simulations.