Colloquium E.J. Mele 'Anomalous Velocity and Geometry in Wave Mechanics'


'Anomalous Velocity and Geometry in Wave Mechanics'

E.J. Mele

Department of Physics & Astronomy

University of Pennsylvania

In electronic band theory the dynamics of electrons in crystal lattices can often exhibit novel phenomena associated with the anomalous velocity.   Modern work on this subject revives an idea which appeared in its primitive form some fifty years ago to interpret an anomalous Hall effect in magnetically ordered states of matter, namely  the appearance of a Hall conductivity in materials that have  spontaneously broken time reversal symmetry without  an applied magnetic field. The signature of the anomalous velocity is the coupling of electron motion to applied static and time-dependent fields through a family of transverse response functions which contain driving terms that are essentially geometrical in origin.  This idea has been brought to the forefront by a modern focus on the topological character of degenerate points and lines in the band structures of crystals and their observable consequences in electron dynamics.  Remarkably the concept of anomalous velocity reappears in this context with some unexpected  consequences for both  gapped “topological” states of matter and for special gapless topological semimetallic states. This talk will present a brief overview of these ideas and illustrate them with examples drawn from work on two dimensional  electronic systems.