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Anomalous localization at the boundary of an interacting topological insulator

TitleAnomalous localization at the boundary of an interacting topological insulator
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsI. Kimchi, Y-Z. Chou, R. M. Nandkishore, and L. Radzihovsky
JournalPhys. Rev. B
Date PublishedJAN 17
Type of ArticleArticle

The boundary of a topological insulator (TI) hosts an anomaly restricting its possible phases: e.g., three-dimensional (3D) strong and weak TIs maintain surface conductivity at any disorder if symmetry is preserved on average at least when electron interactions on the surface are weak. However, the interplay of strong interactions and disorder with the boundary anomaly has not yet been theoretically addressed. Here we study this combination for the edge of a two-dimensional TI and the surface of a 3D weak TI, showing how it can lead to an ``Anomalous Many Body Localized{''} (AMBL) phase that preserves the anomaly. We discuss how the anomalous Kramers parity switching with pi flux arises in the bosonized theory of the localized helical state. The anomaly can be probed in localized boundaries by electrostatically sensing nonlinear hopping transport with e/2 shot noise. Our AMBL construction in 3D weak TIs fails for 3D strong TIs, which suggests that their anomaly restrictions are distinguished by strong interactions.