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Friday, November 22, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
East Bridge 114

IQIM Postdoctoral and Graduate Student Seminar

Recovery of massless Dirac fermions at charge neutrality in strongly interacting twisted bilayer graphene with disorder
Alex Thomson, Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Scholar in Theoretical Physics,

Abstract: Stacking two graphene layers twisted by the `magic angle' $\theta \approx 1.1^\circ$ generates flat energy bands, which in turn catalyzes various strongly correlated phenomena depending on filling and sample details. At charge neutrality, transport measurements reveal superficially mundane semimetallicity (as expected when correlations are weak) in some samples yet robust insulation in others. We propose that the interplay between interactions and disorder admits either behavior, \emph{even when the system is strongly correlated and locally gapped}. Specifically, we argue that strong interactions supplemented by weak, smooth disorder stabilize a network of gapped quantum valley Hall domains with spatially varying Chern numbers determined by the disorder landscape --- even when an entirely different order is favored in the clean limit. Within this scenario, sufficiently small samples that realize a single domain display insulating transport characteristics. Conversely, multi-domain samples exhibit re-emergent massless Dirac fermions formed by gapless domain-wall modes, yielding semimetallic behavior except on the ultra-long scales at which localization becomes visible. We discuss experimental tests of this proposal via local probes and transport. Our results highlight the crucial role that randomness can play in ground-state selection of twisted heterostructures, an observation that we expect to have further ramifications at other fillings.

For more information, please contact Marcia Brown by phone at 626-395-4013 or by email at