Splitting the Hinge Mode of Higher-Order Topological Insulators

Raquel Queiroz, Ady Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The surface of a higher order topological insulator comprises a two-dimensional topological insulator (TI) with broken inversion symmetry, whose mass is determined by the microscopic details of the surface such as surface potentials and termination. It hosts a helical mode pinned to selected hinges where the surface gap changes its sign. We study the effect of perturbations that break time reversal and particle conservation on this helical mode, such as a Zeeman field and a proximate superconductor. We find that in contrast to the helical modes of inversion symmetric TIs, which are gapped by these couplings, the helical modes at the hinges can remain gapless and spatially split. When this happens, the Zeeman field splits the helical mode into a chiral mode surrounding the magnetized region, and a superconductor results in a helical Majorana mode surrounding the superconducting region. The combination of the two might lead to the gapping of one of the chiral Majorana modes, and leave a single one-dimensional chiral Majorana mode around the superconducting island. We propose that the different topological states can be measured in electrical transport.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036802
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 16 Jul 2019


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