Experimental characterization of fragile topology in an acoustic metamaterial

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Science  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6479, pp. 797-800
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz7654

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Understanding fragile topology

Exploiting topological features in materials is being pursued as a route to build in robustness of particular properties. Stemming from crystalline symmetries, such topological protection renders the properties robust against defects and provides a platform of rich physics to be studied. Recent developments have revealed the existence of so-called fragile topological phases, where the means of classification due to symmetry is unclear. Z.-D. Song et al. and Peri et al. present a combined theoretical and experimental approach to identify, classify, and measure the properties of fragile topological phases. By invoking twisted boundary conditions, they are able to describe the properties of fragile topological states and verify the expected experimental signature in an acoustic crystal. Understanding how fragile topology arises could be used to develop new materials with exotic properties.

Science, this issue p. 794, p. 797


Symmetries crucially underlie the classification of topological phases of matter. Most materials, both natural as well as architectured, possess crystalline symmetries. Recent theoretical works unveiled that these crystalline symmetries can stabilize fragile Bloch bands that challenge our very notion of topology: Although answering to the most basic definition of topology, one can trivialize these bands through the addition of trivial Bloch bands. Here, we fully characterize the symmetry properties of the response of an acoustic metamaterial to establish the fragile nature of the low-lying Bloch bands. Additionally, we present a spectral signature in the form of spectral flow under twisted boundary conditions.

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