Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Engineering Time-Reversal Invariant Topological Insulators With Ultra-Cold Atoms



Ian B. Spielman, Nathan Goldman, Indubala I. Satija, Predrag Nikolic, Alejandro Bermudez, Miguel A. Martin-Delgado, Maciej Lewenstein


Topological insulators are a broad class of unconventional states that respect all symmetries of the system, but have non-trivial transport and topological properties which cannot be defined locally. Until recently, all known realizations of these phases violated time-reversal symmetry, such as the quantum Hall states. However, the discovery of the quantum spin Hall effect in HgTe quantum wells and Bi2 Ted3, demonstrated the existence of novel topological states not rooted in time-reversal violations. Here, we design an experimental realization of time-reversal invariant topological insulators using ultra-cold gases subjected to synthetic SU(2) gauge fields in the near-field of an atom-chip. This system offers a rich playground where a variety of novel quantum phase transitions between topological and normal insulating phases arise in a multi-band scenario. Due to their unprecedented controllability, cold-atom systems are ideally suited to realize topological states of matter, so relevant for strongly correlated materials and quantum computation.
Nature Physics


artificial gauge fields, topological insulators, ultracold atoms


Spielman, I. , , N. , Satija, I. , Nikolic, P. , Bermudez, A. , Martin-Delgado, M. and Lewenstein, M. (2010), Engineering Time-Reversal Invariant Topological Insulators With Ultra-Cold Atoms, Nature Physics, [online], (Accessed July 15, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created December 16, 2010, Updated November 10, 2018