Fractional Corner Charge of Sodium Chloride


Haruki Watanabe, Hoi Chun Po

Recent developments in higherorder topological phases have revealed the relationship between nontrivial multipole moments in the bulk and the emergence of fractionally quantized charges at the boundary. Here, we put forth a proposal of the three-dimensional octupole insulator with fractionally quantized corner charges ±e/8: sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt. The fractional quantization of the corner charge is unaffected by the quantum fluctuation of the electric charge per ion, as we demonstrate explicitly with ab initio calculations. We further show that the electrostatic signature of the fractional charge is well preserved even when the ideal crystal is sprinkled with defects, and provide a systematic analysis on how the corner charge contribution could be isolated from the electric-field corrections originating from realistic surface relaxation. Our results suggest that the observation of corner charges from quantized multipole moments in solids might be imminent.


Physical Review X:

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology: