Understanding Topological Insulators in Real Space

A. Martín Pendás, F. Muñoz, C. Cardenas, and J. Contreras-García. «Understanding Topological Insulators in Real Space.» Molecules 26, 2665 (2021). https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/10/2965/htm

A real space understanding of the Su–Schrieffer–Heeger model of polyacetylene is introduced thanks to delocalization indices defined within the quantum theory of atoms in molecules. This approach enables to go beyond the analysis of electron localization usually enabled by topological insulator indices—such as IPR—enabling to differentiate between trivial and topological insulator phases. The approach is based on analyzing the electron delocalization between second neighbors, thus highlighting the relevance of the sublattices induced by chiral symmetry. Moreover, the second neighbor delocalization index, δi,i+2, also enables to identify the presence of chirality and when it is broken by doping or by eliminating atom pairs (as in the case of odd number of atoms chains). Hints to identify bulk behavior thanks to δ1,3 are also provided. Overall, we present a very simple, orbital invariant visualization tool that should help the analysis of chirality (independently of the crystallinity of the system) as well as spreading the concepts of topological behavior thanks to its relationship with well-known chemical concepts.