Observation of the topological soliton state in the Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model

Nat Commun. 2016 Dec 23;7:13986. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13986.


The Su-Schrieffer-Heeger (SSH) model, which captures the most striking transport properties of the conductive organic polymer trans-polyacetylene, provides perhaps the most basic model system supporting topological excitations. The alternating bond pattern of polyacetylene chains is captured by the bipartite sublattice structure of the SSH model, emblematic of one-dimensional chiral symmetric topological insulators. This structure supports two distinct nontrivial topological phases, which, when interfaced with one another or with a topologically trivial phase, give rise to topologically protected, dispersionless boundary states. Here, using 87Rb atoms in a momentum-space lattice, we realize fully tunable condensed matter Hamiltonians, allowing us to probe the dynamics and equilibrium properties of the SSH model. We report on the experimental quantum simulation of this model and observation of the localized topological soliton state through quench dynamics, phase-sensitive injection, and adiabatic preparation.