OPEN Quantum phase transition induced
by real-space topology
C. Li1, G. Zhang2, S. Lin1 & Z. Song1

A quantum phase transition (QPT), including both topological and symmetry breaking types, is usually
received: 02 August 2016
induced by the change of global parameters, such as external fields or global coupling constants. In
accepted: 23 November 2016 this work, we demonstrate the existence of QPT induced by the real-space topology of the system.
Published: 22 December 2016 We investigate the groundstate properties of the tight-binding model on a honeycomb lattice with the
torus geometry based on exact results. It is shown that the ground state experiences a second-order
QPT, exhibiting the scaling behavior, when the torus switches to a tube, which reveals the connection
between quantum phase and the real-space topology of the system.

Quantum phase transitions (QPTs) are of central interest both in the fields of condensed matter physics and
quantum information. The transition describes an abrupt change in the ground state of a many-body system due
to its quantum fluctuations. In general, a global physical parameter, such as external fields or widely distributed
coupling constants may drive QPTs, including both topological1 and symmetry breaking types2. During the
transition, the real-space geometry of the system is usually unchanged. A natural question is whether a change of
real-space topology can induce a QPT for some peculiar cases. It is traced back to a problem in classical physics:
the effect of a magnetic field on an object depends on its real-space topology (see the illustration in Fig. 1). A
magnetic field affects a conducting loop via the magnetic flux, which is independent of its shape, for instance, no
matter it is a metal donut or cup. However, it has no effect on a metal bar. The switch of the topology is equivalent
to the sudden removal of the applied magnetic field, which may introduce a sudden change of the quantum state
at zero temperature.
In this work, we demonstrate the influence of the real-space topology to the quantum phase via concrete
tight-binding models on a honeycomb and square lattices, respectively. The change of the topology is presented by
the value of hopping constants, which connecting the two ends of a tube. When the boundary hopping constants
vary from finite to zero, a torus switches to a tube. We investigate the groundstate property as the function of the
boundary coupling. Analytical and numerical results show that the ground state exhibits the scaling behavior of
second-order QPTs in the honeycomb lattice, but not in the square lattice. It reveals that a geometric topological
transition may induce a QPT in certain systems, which display physics beyond the current understanding of the
QPT. The possible relation between QPTs and the geometric quantity in real-space may open attractive topics for
different scientific communities.

Graphene torus.  We consider a system of noninteracting particles in a honeycomb geometry, subjected to a
magnetic flux φ. The tight-binding model for this system can be described by the Hamiltonian
M N −1 N /4
H = −t ∑  ∑ am† , n am , n +1 + ∑ am† ,4n am+1,4n −1
m=1 n =1 n =1
N /4  M
+ ∑ am† ,4n −3 am+1,4n − 2  − ηte iφ ∑ am† , N am ,1 + H.c.,
n =1
 m= 1 (1)
where am,n (am† , n)
annihilates (creates) an electron in site (m, n) on an M ×​  N lattice with integer N/4 and M ⩾ 3,
and obeys the periodic boundary conditions, aM + 1,4n−1 =​  a1,4n−1 and aM + 1,4n−2 =​  a1,4n−2, with m ∈​  [1, M], n ∈​ 
[1, N/4]. Parameter t is hopping integral. Here φ =​  2πΦ​/Φ​0, where Φ​is the flux threading the ring, Φ​0 is the flux
quantum. In Fig. 2, the geometry of the model is illustrated schematically. In this model, factor η is important,
determining the boundary condition of the system. In the view of geometry, the value of η measures the topology

School of Physics, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China. 2College of Physics and Materials Science, Tianjin
Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to Z.S.
(email: songtc@nankai.edu.cn)

Scientific Reports | 6:39416 | DOI: 10.1038/srep39416 1

(c) a broken torus. (b) a cut torus.com/scientificreports/ Figure 1. which may introduce a sudden change of the quantum state at zero temperature. A cut or broken torus is presented by the weak or zero hopping constants. where ξl =​  1 for l =​  4n. (d) A square lattice. It arises from the fact that the effect of a magnetic field on an object depends on its real-space topology. m ∈​  [1. while (c) cannot feel the existence of the field. M]. and k =​  2πm/M. N/4]. l = ∑e ikjaj†. To this end. exact result is preferable.1038/srep39416 2 . M j=1 (2) to rewrite the Hamiltonian.nature. with different real-space topology. The switch of the topology is equivalent to the sudden removal of the applied magnetic field. We consider two types of lattices: (c) A honeycomb lattice. of the system: nonzero η corresponds to a torus whereas zero η stands for a bar. Objects in (a) and (b) have the same real-space topology.l .www. which are employed to construct the systems (a) with different real-space topologies. Charged particles in systems (a) and (b) feel the same flux. so we employ the Fourier transformation ξl M ck†. which are indicated by dashed lines.  Schematic illustration of the lattice systems. 4n −​  2 with n ∈​  [1. We consider three cases: (a) A perfect torus.  Schematic illustration of the aim of the present work. The aim of this work is to explore what happens to the ground state when η passes the zero point. The Hamiltonian can be expressed as H =​  ∑​kHk. We note that the value of η does not affect the translational symmetry in another direction. where Scientific Reports | 6:39416 | DOI: 10. Figure 2. The site index of two types of lattices is indicated in (b). 4n −​  3 and ξl =​  e−ik/2 for l =​  4n −​  1. while (c) is topologically equivalent to a bar.

 (3) for small η. with energy Eg =​  Eb +​  Em. α ± . but not if |λk| >​ 1.0  2  ηe−iφ − λkN  (4) with eigenvalues 1 N 2 2N 2 εk± = ±Ω− k t (η − λ k cos φ) + λ k sin φ ... we have λk =​ 0. l = [1 + ( − 1) = (1 l ] λk(N −l ) /2 /2 and Ωk − − λ k2N )/(1 − λ k2 ) ≈ (1 λk2 )−1.3 k . we plot several typical band structures for Hk as functions of η in Fig.c. ∂ 2εk−/∂η 2 reaches the maximum  ∂ 2ε −  −t − 2t 2  k  = = . We would like to point out that. l = [1 − ( − 1) l ] λk(l−1) /2 /2. α ± . In this case.com/scientificreports/ N /2 N /2 − 1 H k = −λkt ∑ ck†.. α ± . the main band structures are still unchanged when the boundary condition changes. Specifically. when η =​ 0.2n c k .2n − t ∑ ck†. There are two midgap levels emerge from the upper and lower Scientific Reports | 6:39416 | DOI: 10. the above analysis is not appli- 2 2 cable to the situation of k =​  π. In recent years. the number of zero modes reflects the winding number as a topological invariant. (3) Together with [Hk. and (∂ 2εk−/∂η 2)m all exhibit scaling behavior. the property of ∂​2Eg/∂​η2 depends on the behavior of ∂ 2εk−/∂η 2. Schrieffer. which reduces the SSH ring to a trivial case.0) =  k . It shows that in the case of |λk| >​ 1. N c k . αk−. where ψ b is the lower band eigenstate with energy Eb. (5). we look at the second-order derivatives of the groundstate energy ∂ 2E g ∂ 2E m 2 λk2N ∂η 2 ≈ ∂η 2 = t sin φ ∑ 4 − 3 . It indicates that the groundstate energy changes arising from the formation of the zero modes. is the prototype of a topologically nontrivial band insulator with a symmetry protected topological (SPT) phase5. Hk′] =​ 0. Scaling behavior. the avoided level-crossing between εk+ and εk− becomes a level-crossing in a finite system. From the exact expression of εk± in Eq.www.6.nature. These facts should result in the scaling behavior of ∂​ Eg/∂​η . For the open boundary condition. proposed by Su.2n −1c k . there are two zero modes if |λk| <​  1.2n +1 n =1 n =1 − ηte iφck†.4.2 k . In addition. k . which are   1  ηe iφ − λkN + −   Ak± =   A k .1038/srep39416 3 . and ψm = ∏ ψk† A−k 0 {k} (7) is the midgap state with energy E m = ∑{k} εk−.  ∂η 2  N λ k Ωk sin φ (Ωk )2 ∆km m (10) at the same point ηmk. and infinite N. there are approximately M/3 pairs of zero modes for a graphene tube with the open boundary condition. We are interested in this process. which is obtained from ∂εk±/∂η = 0. The one-dimensional dimerized Peierls system at half-filling. The second-order QPT becomes the first-order one. (5) Where 1   ( A± T α ± .1 + H. we know that there is a pair of approximate solution for the two zero modes of Eq. On the other hand. 3.N   Ωk  (6) with αk+. According to the Methods. where {k} denotes the set of k within the region 2π/3 <​  k <​  4π/3. These analytical expressions are the base for the investigation of the quantum phase transition induced by η. {k} Ωk (εk ) (8) Obviously. In the case of |λk| <​ 1.7–10. and Heeger (SSH) to model polyacetylene3. It is found that. quantities ∆km. . Accordingly. according to the bulk-boundary correspondence.  Based on the above analysis. ηmk. the groundstate wavefunction can be expressed as ψg = ψ b ψ m . extensive studies have been received1.1 k . the band structures are unchanged when the bound- ary condition changes no matter the flux presents or not. the band state is independent of η.0 + A k . we find that H is a combination of M independent Peierls rings with the k-dependent hopping integral λk =​  2cos(k/2). in the case of φ →​ 0. To charac- terize the quantum phase transition induced by η. we note that the gap between εk+ and εk− has a minimum ∆km = 2tΩ−1 N k λ k sin φ (9) at ηmk = λkN cos φ. To demonstrate the origin of the critical behavior occurs in Hk. while the midgap state is dependent of η. In the thermodynamic limit.

the zero modes appear as a level crossing and avoided level crossing. (13) A straightforward derivation results in λ kN sin φ Ωk ∆mk F (η m . λk =​  0. δ 2 + λk2N sin2 φ 2t δ (14) which also exhibits scaling law. The parameters for all plots are M =​  7 and φ =​  π/4. We see that the zero modes do not appear in the cases of (a) and (b).05 0. (∂​2Eg/∂​η2)m diverges at zero ηm.16 ± 0.5. (11)  ∂ 2E  g ln  2  = (0. The plots of ηm and (∂​2Eg/∂​η2)m as functions of N indicate the scaling law.  Energy spectra for the Hamiltonian in Eq.5. We demonstrate this by the following system.077) N − (1.5 0 −14 −2 −0. (c) the scaling law of the (∂​2Eg/∂​η2)m as a function of N.111) N − (1. which is defined as F (η .com/scientificreports/ Figure 3.nature. λk =​ 0. (c) φ =​  0. (d) φ =​  π/4. 8 0 N=12 numerical data numerical data N=20 −2 linear fitting linear fitting N=36 6 N=44 7 −4 5. (b) φ =​  π/4.1 −0. Scientific Reports | 6:39416 | DOI: 10. δ ) = ≈ . The flux takes the role of quantum fluctuation. Key features of such kind of phase transition are that it is induced by a local parameter η. In the case of (d). is also crucial for the QPT. we focus on the midgap-state fidelity. no matter the flux is zero or not.1 0 15 30 45 60 0 15 30 45 60 Figure 4.05 0 0.2 ± 0.5. we take a small N in order to demonstrate the avoided level- crossing clearly. λk =​  1. (b). bands. The linear fitting allows us to estimate the scaling functions as the from ln ηm = ( −0. Another way of looking at QPTs from the quantum information point of view is ground-state fidelity11. From above analytical and numerical analysis. λk =​  1.  The characteristics of second-order QPT for the present system in Eq. honeycomb lattice. In the case of zero flux. obtained by exact diagonalization. respectively. It shows that ∂​2Eg/∂​η2 has a maximum (∂​2Eg/∂​η2)m at a pseudo critical point ηm. The parameter η drives the transition from one edge state to another through the quantum fluctuation of the flux.www.2 ± 0. (a) Plots of ∂​2Eg/∂​η2 as a function of η for different values of N.12. (3) on a lattice with N =​ 20 for (a). Another point we want to address is that the contexture of the toroid. which is similar to the impurity induced QPT13. exhibiting the second-order QPT behavior.1038/srep39416 4 . This predicts that. However. (b) the scaling law of pseudo critical point ηm as a function of N. in the cases of (c) and (d). We would also like to point out that the flux is crucial for the transition.  ∂η  m (12) which are in good accordance with the numerical results. 4. respectively. driving the second-order QPT. For our case.332). The parameters are (a) φ =​  0.5. we conclude that the real-space topology can induce a QPT. the key feature is that the flux can lead to a level-crossing. We also plot the ∂​2Eg/∂​η2 as functions of η and N for nonzero φ in Fig.5 −10 2 1 −12 −0. The appearance of midgap levels does not depend on the flux. δ ) = A+(η − δ ) A+(η + δ ) .234). (1). in large N limit. (c) and N =​  4 for (d).5 −6 4 4 −8 2. the quantum transition reduces to the first-order transition.2 ± 0. In contrast.

Discussion In this work.  Energy spectra for the Hamiltonian in Eq. which means there is no avoided level-crossing whether the flux presents or not. N + hk′. ck. we plot several typical band structures for Hk described in Eq. N . Methods The approximate solution of a Peierls ring with the k-dependent hopping integral λk = 2cos(k/2). . We see that the zero modes appear as a level crossing in the case of (a) when no flux.n am+1. (b).  We write down the Hamiltonian (3) in the basis ψk† = (ck. and N =​  100 for (c). the band structures are always level-crossing. n am . we have demonstrated the existence of the QPT induced by the real-space topology of the system. 5. (b) φ =​  π/4. The parameters are (a) φ =​  0. it seems like an avoided level-crossing happens when flux presents. we set λ2k =​ 0 for all figures because it is just an on-site potential and has no influence on the band structure. in case of (b).nature.3. In contrast.www.1038/srep39416 5 . These two examples indicate that the occurrence of a real-space induced QPT strongly depends on the contexture of the system. n =​  a1. To show this point more clearly. n +1 +  ∑ am† .1 † † . Here two N ×​  N matrices are  0 −λ 0  0 0 λkN   k −λ   k 0 1  0 0 0    0 1 0  0 0 0  hk0. (c) φ =​  π/4.1 + H. which is driven by a global physical parameter.. Here. the level-crossing has been broken and a gap appears between upper and lower bands. (23) on a lattice with N =​ 4 for (a).n.. and the fidelity of the groundstate wavefunction. such as scaling behaviors of the second-order derivatives of groundstate energy. N ψk. It also reveals a fact that the groundstate property must be tightly connected to the topology of the system in which a real-space induced QPT can happen.2 † . which only shows the bottom energy level of the upper band and the top energy level of the lower band for simplicity. In contrast to the conventional QPT. This finding reveals the connection between the QPT and the real-space topology.N represents a N ×​  N matrix and contains two parts.c. we demonstrate that there is still a gap between the upper and lower bands even if N is sufficiently large.com/scientificreports/ Figure 5. But in the case of (c). we consider a system of noninteracting particles in a square lattice.  0 0 0  0 1 0   0 0 0  1 0 −λk   N   λk 0 0  0 −λk 0  (17) Scientific Reports | 6:39416 | DOI: 10. there is no QPT for the cor- responding real-space topological change in the square lattice system... In contrast to the graphene tube. (23) as functions of η in Fig. ck. hk . pseudo critical point. In the case of φ ≠​  0. subjected to a magnetic flux φ. N =            . It shows that in the case of φ =​ 0. N = hk0. N am . are all obtained. N ) and see that H k = − tψk† hk . From the Methods. aM + 1. ck†. The tight-binding model for this system can be described by the Hamiltonian M N −1 N  H = −t ∑  ∑ am† . This means that there is no avoided level-crossing whether flux presents or not. even in the very large size of the system. which will motivate further investigation. even in the small size of the system. the characteristics of second-order QPT. obtained by exact diagonalization. m=1 (15) which obeys the periodic boundary conditions. Nevertheless.n  m = 1 n =1 n =1  M − ηte iφ ∑ am† . such a QPT is induced by a varying local parameter. (16) where hk.

Berry phase effects on electronic properties. l = ∑e ikjaj†. S. Topological Origin of Zero-Energy Edge States in Particle-Hole Symmetric Systems. Phys. J. Fortunately. αk±. England. Chang. G. Phys. Z. Xu. αk±.nature. L. Hk′] =​  0 and λ2k =​  2cos  k. L. Rev. Lett. Q. Phys. S. 82. & Chen. Rev. Rev.-C. we find that H is a combination of M independent rings with the k-dependent on-site potential −​λ2kt. C.1038/srep39416 6 . 077002 (2002)..1. Li. Ullmo. M].e. The geometry of this system is schematically illustrated in Fig.      −iφ N  ηe − λk   0  (18) respectively.n =​  a1. 9. We see that in large N limit. & Heeger.d).. P. Scientific Reports | 6:39416 | DOI: 10. Phys. 8. The Lesson of Quantum Theory (North Holland. 5. W. a N-site ring becomes a N-site chain. M j=1 (22) to rewrite the Hamiltonian. (21) The exact solution of the square lattice system. Rev.N can be regarded as a perturbation for small η. where N −1 H k = −t ∑ ck†. i.n. H. C. Colloquium: Topological insulators. (23) have been plotted as functions of η in Fig.. The degen- erate perturbation method gives the   1  ηe iφ − λkN +  Ak± =   −iφ A + A− N k .0) = (αk±. Rev. in which the particle probability locates around the junction. B 84. 82.  From the Hamiltonian (15). a N-site ring reduces to a (N −​ 2)-site chain and a 2-site separated dimer with eigenvalues out of the bands.com/scientificreports/ and  0  ηe iφ − λkN   hk′. The solution for hk. N]. Su. there are always two zero-mode states. n c k . . which obeys the periodic boundary conditions. (25) respectively. 3.1 n =1 N + H. Wen.. The solutions of both cases accord with each other. 89.2 . n. hk.-L. 195452 (2011).N depicts an open chains: (i) |λk| <​  1. Phys. Schrieffer. 3045 (2010). 83. we have two eigenvectors with zero eigenvalue. (ii) |λk| >​  1. Hasan. We employ the Fourier transformation M 1 ck†. ηk tends to infinity. Quantum Phase Transitions. N ). aM + 1.c. Phys..N with finite N is the basement of the scaling behavior for the geometric topological transition. Symmetry-protected topological phases in noninteracting fermion systems. αk−. Topological phases of generalized Su-Schrieffer-Heeger models. Mod. Y. M.0 2  ηe − λ k  (20) with eigenvalues 1 N 2 2N 2 εk± = ±Ω− k t (η − λ k cos φ) + λ k sin φ . & Kane. D. 1999). X. N c k . Cambridge. where n ∈​  [1. 7. 1057 (2011). H. l = [1 + ( − 1)l ] λk(N −l ) /2 /2 and Ωk = (1 − λ k2N )/(1 − λk2 )  ≈ ​ (1 − λk2 )−1. 1959 (2010). The Hamiltonian can be still expressed as H =​  ∑​kHk. M. Lett.-G. Solitons in Polyacetylene. R. l = [1 − ( − 1)l ] λ k(l−1) /2 /2. It is hard to get the explicit eigenfunctions of matrix hk. Since two zero modes A ± 0 are at midgap. (Cambridge University Press. 085111 (2014). X. Sachdev. 085103 (2012). 5 to show this point clearly.0 k . 1698 (1979). 2. Delplace. D.. & Zhang. Ωk (19) with αk+. − λ2kt ∑ ck†. N =  . Xiao.N. Qi. Topological insulators and superconductors. J. Rev. Rev.. 6. which are so-called edge states. And several typical band structures for Eq. m ∈​  [1. Schrieffer. Amsterdam. & Montambaux. ibid. n =1 (23) Together with [Hk. References 1. Mod. & Niu.. where T 1 ( A± k . A. n c k . R. Z. 1986). hk. It indicates that the band structure is unchanged as the boundary condition changes.www. ηk vanishes. The spectra of Hk with η =​ 1 and 0 are −2t cos[(2πn + φ)/N ] − λ 2kt (24) and −2t cos[πn/(N + 1)] − λ2kt . & Hatsugai. S. B 89.0 = 0. αk±. S. n +1 − ηte iφck†. hk0. Zak phase and the existence of edge states in graphene. 2(b. Phys.l . J. In both two cases. N Ak±. 4. P. where k =​  2πm/M.3. Ryu. B 85. 42.

11. users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4. Rep. 12. Gu.. How to cite this article: Li. if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license.com/scientificreports/ 10. S. H. Vojta. Phys. B 24. Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Sci.1038/srep39416 (2016). To view a copy of this license. C. doi: 10.L.nature.Z. & Chen. Z. J.www. Fidelity approach to quantum phase transitions. & S. Phys. Acknowledgements We acknowledge the support of the National Basic Research Program (973 Program) of China under Grant No. Additional Information Competing financial interests: The authors declare no competing financial interests. Li. unless indicated otherwise in the credit line. conceived the project and drafted the manuscript. Rev. Mod. P. 2012CB921900 and CNSF (Grant No.L. 11374163 and No. Rev. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license. 39416. 86. Author Contributions C. 031123 (2006). 13. Zanardi. G. 1807–1846 (2006). M.0/ © The Author(s) 2016 Scientific Reports | 6:39416 | DOI: 10. Impurity quantum phase transitions. Phys. & Paunkovi.0 International License. Int. L. B 92. 4371 (2010). N. 6. E 74. visit http://creativecommons. Quantum phase transition induced by real-space topology. Ground state overlap and quantum phase transitions.org/licenses/by/4. All authors reviewed the manuscript.S. Philosophical Magazine.-J. Characterization of topological phase transitions via topological properties of transition points. S. did the derivations and edited the manuscript. et al.1038/srep39416 7 . 11647045). 085118 (2015).