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Topological quantization of energy transport in micromechanical and nanomechanical lattices



Chih-Chun Chien, Kirill Velizhanin, Yonatan Dubi, Bojan R. Ilic, Michael P. Zwolak


Topological effects are emerging as one of the central paradigms of physics, from condensed matter to cold atoms to quantum computation. These effects are typically discussed in the context of quantum physics. Here, we demonstrate the role of topology in determining the energy transport properties of dimerized micro- and nano-mechanical lattices in the classical regime, i.e., essentially “masses and springs,” a hallmark example of Newtonian physics. We show that the thermal conductance factorizes into topological and non-topological components, with the former assuming three discrete values that reflect a length-independent reduction of the conductance due to the formation of edge modes. We relate these values to the “winding number” – a topological signature of the system’s band structure – and show their robustness against disorder and nonlinearity. These results bridge two seemingly disconnected disciplines of physics, namely topology and thermal transport, and suggest ways to engineer thermal contacts and control heat flow, opening a novel direction to explore the ramifications of topological properties on nanoscale technology.
Physical Review B


Topological materials, Nanomechanics, Thermal transport
Created March 21, 2018, Updated November 10, 2018