Scholarly article on topic 'Dislocation Majorana zero modes in perovskite oxide 2DEG'

Dislocation Majorana zero modes in perovskite oxide 2DEG Academic research paper on "Physical sciences"

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Academic research paper on topic "Dislocation Majorana zero modes in perovskite oxide 2DEG"


OPEN Dislocation Majorana zero modes in perovskite oxide 2DEG

Received: 24 August 2015 Accepted: 12 April 2016 Published: 03 May 2016

Suk Bum Chung1,2, Cheung Chan3 & Hong Yao3

Much of the current experimental efforts for detecting Majorana zero modes have been centered on probing the boundary of quantum wires with strong spin-orbit coupling. The same type of Majorana zero mode can also be realized at crystalline dislocations in 2D superconductors with the nontrivial weak topological indices. Unlike at an Abrikosov vortex, at such a dislocation, there is no other low-lying midgap state than the Majorana zero mode so that it avoids usual complications encountered in experimental detections such as scanning tunneling microscope (STM) measurements. We will show that, using the anisotropic dispersion of the t2g orbitals of Ti or Ta atoms, such a weak topological superconductivity can be realized when the surface two-dimensional electronic gas (2DEG) of SrTiO3 or KTaO3 becomes superconducting, which can occur through either intrinsic pairing or proximity to existing s-wave superconductors.

Non-Abelian braiding statistics of well-separated Majorana zero modes can provide one simpler means for realizing topological quantum computations1'2. Partly motivated by this, the search for Majorana zero modes in nature has become one of the central and challenging issues in condensed matter physics in last few years3-5. It has been recognized in recent years that superconductivity in a system where the spin-orbit coupling and the Zeeman field co-exist can be topologically non-trivial even with conventional s-wave pairings, giving rise to Majorana zero modes in topological defects6-9. Although much of the experimental investigations into this physics have focused on 1D systems, e.g. refs 10 and 11, the results are known to hold in two-dimensional (2D) systems as well. One promising arena to realize such 2D systems is the 2DEGs formed at the boundaries of perovskite transition metal oxides12. Notable examples of such 2DEGs include the (001) interface between SrTiO3 and LaAlO313, the surfaces of SrTiO314'15, and KaTaO316. All of them possess Rashba-type spin-orbit coupling because of the lack of inversion symmetry at the boundaries. In addition, ferromagnetism is a frequent feature of these 2DEGs17-20 even though spin-orbit coupling usually tends to suppress spin alignment. Given that intrinsic superconductivity has been observed in many of these 2DEGs19,20-24, not to mention the possibility of inducing superconductivity on the surface 2DEGs through superconducting proximity effect, one naturally asks the question whether topologically protected Majorana zero modes can be achieved in the oxide 2DEG.

One major difficulty in investigating the topology of such oxide 2DEG superconductor is the multitude of bands at the Fermi level near the r point. While the topologically nontrivial superconductivity in such 2DEGs has been studied with relatively simple models25-27, these studies rely on the assumption of only one or two bands crossing the Fermi level, which, however, seems to be at variance with the reported experimental data28. This is because, unlike in the simplified models, the conduction bands of these 2DEGs near the r point cannot be attributed to a single set of the transition metal t2g orbitals. Given that the formation of 2DEG requires a confining potential, it is likely that multiple quantum well channels arise from each t2g orbital29. Exactly how many bands occur at the r point is often difficult to predict as the 2DEG confining potential is highly non-universal. Since the inclusion of more bands can turn topologically non-trivial superconductor into topologically trivial superconductor (and vice versa), this is an issue that raises question about the robustness of the simple model analysis.

We show here that it is possible to obtain robust Majorana zero modes in the perovskite oxide 2DEG by using its crystalline symmetry and anisotropic dispersions. Once the crystalline translational symmetry is assumed, weak topological indices are well-defined topological invariants30,31 that are unaffected by how many bands cross the Fermi level near the r point. Physically, in the case of 2D superconductors breaking time-reversal-symmetry, weak topological indices can tell us whether there would be a Majorana zero mode on an edge dislocation32,33,

1Center for Correlated Electron Systems, Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea.

2Department of Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-747, Korea. institute for Advanced Study, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to S.B.C. (email: or C.C. (email: or H.Y. (email: yaohong@

which can be detected with the STM tip. Although a Fermi surface crossing the boundary of the first Brillouin zone (BZ), a requirement for any non-trivial weak indices, has not been observed yet in the oxide 2DEGs, it is possible with currently available experimental techniques to tune the system to satisfy this condition. This is thanks to one universal feature of the (001) perovskite oxide 2DEG - the strong anisotropy of the band dispersion. This feature, signified by the sharp distinction between the light mass and heavy mass bands in the (001) perovskite oxide 2DEG ARPES (angle-resolved photoemission spectrum) data14-16, means that there need not be large changes in either the Fermi level or the number of electrons per unit cell in tuning the system from the band bottom to the Lifshitz phase transition point. Moreover, this Lifshitz phase transition would involve only a single heavy mass band as all the light mass bands would be at much higher energy. Indeed, this tunability makes the oxide 2DEG a unique physical system to realize the dislocation Majorana zero mode compared to the ones discussed previously34-37 as we shall show below.


Band structure of the (001) perovskite oxide 2DEG. It has been known that electrons close to the Fermi level in typical (001) perovskite 2DEGs are mainly from t2g bands; the bands formed by dxz and dyz orbitals are quasi-1D while the one by dxy orbital is quasi-2D. As we are mainly interested in weak topological superconductivity in such systems, we shall focus on the electrons at the Brillouin zone boundaries, namely kx = n or ky = n. One important feature of the (001) perovskite 2DEG band structure is that the electrons close to the Fermi level with kx = n (ky = n) originate mostly from the quasi-1D dyz (dxz) orbitals. This is because the low-energy physics at the BZ boundary arises out of the heavy-mass bands, and the quasi-1D nature of the dxz(dyz) orbital implies the heavy-mass dispersion in the y(x)-direction as well as the light-mass dispersion in the x(y)-direction. This anisotropic dispersion can be captured by the tight-binding model,

K 0 = —[Cr+ex,x,a cr,x + cr+ey,y,a cr,y,a + h.c.J

— ^t''r ^ - + ^

r+e y,x r,x 1 r+ex,y r,y

where cj:a a creates an electrons at site r with spin polarization a = f, j and orbital a = x, y (representing dxz and dyz orbitals respectively). Because of the quasi-1D natures of dxz and dyz orbitals, |t| » t|. This simple model is sufficient to explain why we can reach the Lifshitz transition by lifting the Fermi level only in the order of the heavy-mass dispersion bandwidth 4t' and the electron filling fraction only by t'/t; this would involve raising the Fermi level by ~0.1 eV and adding 0.3 electrons per unit cell when compared to the KTaO3 surface ARPES data16 (we also note that superconductivity has been observed around this 2D electron density for the ionic liquid gated KTaO324). Such shift in the Fermi level can be achieved by both the electrical gating and optically induced oxygen vacancies15'16'38'39; more recently, a first-principle calculation showed how a large shift in chemical potential can occur a surface 2DEG from a cubic perovskite oxide heterostructure40. Meanwhile, the contribution from the dxy orbital is suppressed as it has the light-mass dispersion in both the x- and the y-direction.

We further need to consider the hybridization between the dxz and dyz orbitals in order to obtain from them two bands, one giving rise to the outer Fermi surface closer to the van Hove singularity at crystalline momentum points X = (n, 0) and Y = (0, n) and the other giving rise to the inner Fermi surface closer to the r point. Microscopically, the hybridization between dxz and dyz orbitals is mainly due to the on-site atomic spin-orbit coupling KaSO = — AcJszTycr and the next-nearest neighbor hopping Knnn= _t"Er [(cr+e +e s0txcr _ cj_e +e s0txcr) + h.c.], where sa are Pauli matrices with spin indices and Ta with orbital indices. From these hybridization terms, we obtain the outer Fermi surface dispersion of

£ (k) = -(t + t')(cos kx + cos ky) - ^

- ^(t - t')2(cos kx - cos ky)2 + A2 + (4t '' sin kx sin ky)2 . (2)

It is clear that, for (t — t)» A, t', the orbital hybridization would have little effect near the X/Ypoints except for shifting the Lifshitz transition to ^ = — J 4(t — t')2 + A2. Even with a large A, as shown in Fig. 1(a) where we used t =10t = 0.5 eV and A = 0.26 eV, the former approximating the first principle calculation for KTaO316,41,42 while the latter larger by roughly a factor of 2, the distinction between the heavy-mass and the light-mass bands remains sharp. Hence the physics near the (n, 0) point would be dominated by the dyz and near (0, n) by the dxz orbital.

Since the inversion symmetry is obviously broken in the surface 2DEG, the spin degeneracy at the Fermi surface should be generically split by the non-zero Rashba spin-orbit coupling. For our analysis, it will be sufficient to consider only the most generic Rashba term, which is orbital independent,

KRSO = -cE^ iSyT0cr - cU~e isxT0cr + hx.

(see Supplementary Information for further discussions).

After taking into account the hybridization as well as spin-orbital couplings, the band dispersions are described by K = K0 + KaSO + Knnn + KRS'O. As the chemical potential ¡j, moves, there is a Lifshitz transition at which the outer Fermi surface crosses the van Hove points at X and Y. As we approach the Lifshitz transition, the

E (eV) //

\ 1-0 //

^— y/

-tt :: ............... Q.O .................................. tt

Figure 1. The band structure of the (001) perovskite oxide 2DEG near the Lifshitz transition. (a) shows the light- and heavy-mass band dispersion (in blue and red, respectively), along ky = n with (solid line) and without (dotted line) the orbital hybridization. (b) shows the lower band from the dxz/dyz orbitals after the orbital hybridization, with the spin degeneracy removed by the Rashba spin orbit coupling a0 = 0.05eV and the perpendicular Zeeman field hZ = 0.05 eV. Note that the Lifshitz transition point is split, allowing a single hole pocket without spin degeneracy around (n, n).

low-energy band structure near the (n, 0) point, which would mainly originate from the dyz orbital, can be given by the first-quantized Hamiltonian

H0(kx, ky) = — 2t' cos kx — 2t cos ky — ^

— 2a0\sy sin kx — sx sin ky]. (4)

Likewise the band structure in the vicinity of (0, n), which would originate mainly from the dxz orbital can be obtained by the n/2 rotation of the momentum and the spin in Eq. (4). It is also analogous to the Rashba wire that the spin degeneracy at (0, n) remains unbroken, which means that the Fermi surface splitting does not lead to two separated Lifshitz transitions.

To realize isolated Majorana zero modes, the final necessary component of the band structure is the Zeeman field. Near the Lifshitz transition, there will be both higher density of oxygen vacancies near the surface as well as enhancement of the quasi-lD characteristics of the dxzyz orbitals. Both can give rise to ferromagnetism: the former39,43 because of the oxygen vacancy acting as the magnetic impurity44 while the latter through the inter-orbital Hund's rule coupling45. Both of these effects should be amplified by the enhanced density of states near the van Hove singularity that occurs at the Lifshitz transition. We will consider the ferromagnetic ordering in the perpendicular direction as was observed in the experiment with the density of oxygen vacancy induced by circularly polarized light39; we also note that, in case our 2DEG that arises from the heterostructure as described in40, we can also obtain the Zeeman field by either inserting a ferromagnetic layer between the 2DEG and the insulating substrate or using an appropriate ferromagnetic insulator as the substrate. Then, the ferromagnetism-induced Zeeman coupling KZ = hZ c? szr 0cr shall split the Lifshitz transition into two separated ones, as shown in Fig. 1(b), giving rise to a finite range of ¡i for which there is a single hole pocket without spin degeneracy around the M = (n, n) point; for this plot we used t" = t' = 0.05 eV with a0 = 0.05 eV and hZ = 0.05 eV.

Dislocation Majorana zero mode in proximity induced superconductivity. For the superconducting state, we will first consider the case where the pairing is induced through proximity to the conventional s-wave superconductor. This will ensure the s-wave pairing in the oxide surface 2DEG. We also point out that inducing superconductivity through proximity effect can have the advantage of achieving superconductivity at higher temperature. To enhance the pairing gap magnitude, we would need strong tunneling between the superconductor and the oxide surface 2DEG. This can be achieved through using the higher- Tc two-band superconductors such as FeSe46-48; note that by symmetry, the single orbital superconductor is unlikely to have a strong tunneling to the both the dxz and dyz orbitals. Hence our heterostructure will consist of the capping two-band s-wave superconductor on the (001) surface of SrTiO3 or KTaO3 as shown in Fig. 2(a).

The combination of the Zeeman field hZ and the s-wave pairing gap | As| in the oxide 2DEG near the Lifshitz transition can give rise to the non-trivial weak index, v = (1,1), i.e. non-trivial 1D topological invariants along kx,y = n. For instance, the following low-energy effective BdG Hamiltonian with kx = n is exactly equivalent to the Rashba-Zeeman wire superconducting state9,49.

KsBdO (kx = n, ky) = [2t(1 - cos ky) - + 2a0sx sin ky] - szhZ + I As l (5)

where ¡a's are Pauli matrices acting on the particle-hole Nambu space, Si is the deviation of the chemical potential from the value at the Lifshitz transition for hZ = 0, and we use the basis (ck|, ck^, — c-k,c-k,|). It is well known that this 1D BdG Hamiltonian is topologically equivalent to the Kitaev chain50 (class D51) when

(a) _J5™ --------

(d) LDOS on sSC

zero bias anomaly at dislocation

; STO (KTO) Lattice \


energy (meV)

Figure 2. (a) shows the schematic setup of our system, with the oxide 2DEG superconductivity induced through the proximity effect and a pair of edge dislocations is on the oxide (STO or KTO, viewed from the interface) but not on the s-wave superconductor (sSC); an STM tip probes sSC. (b,c) shows the wave function profile for the Majorana zero modes on both the oxide surface and the s-wave superconductor. (d) plots the local density of states on the s-wave superconductor for various different points of the system, with the dark blue curve (point a) being taken right at the oxide dislocation position; note that both the sharp peak right above the oxide dislocation and the Majorana zero mode being the only subgap mode below the induced oxide pairing gap of ~1.2 meV.

hZ > \AS f + (8p)2. The C 4v point group symmetry of the perovskite surface 2DEG dictates that HsBdG (kx, ky = n) should be topologically identical to HsBdG (kx = n, ky).

The orbital hybridization will not affect the topological nature of the superconductivity as long as the s-wave pairing is intra-orbital. Given that the s-wave pairing has no spin dependence, we see that even if we take into account the band hybridization and write H(kx = n, ky) in the band basis, the Zeeman coupling and the s-wave pairing terms will remain unchanged, and hence so remain the condition for the topologically non-trivial superconductivity (see Supplementary Information for details).

Because of the nontrivial weak topological indices v = (1, 1), unpaired Majorana zero modes occur at dislocations whose Burger's vector B in units of lattice spacings satisfies B • v = 1 (mod 2), where mod 2 is from the Z2 nature of weak topological indices in class D52. To confirm this, we have performed BdG calculations of the lattice models describing the 2DEG in proximity to a two-orbital s-wave superconductor (sSC). As shown in Fig. 2(b,c), we have obtained the Majorana zero mode at each dislocation from the numerical exact diagonalization of the real-space BdG Hamiltonian. Our calculation was done on a 240 x 240 unit cell with periodic boundary conditions. Two edge dislocations with the Burger's vector B = ± ex are placed by one half system size in the x-direction, with the links between the dislocations shifted as shown in Fig. 2(a) (see Methods for details on implementation). This oxide surface with the pair of dislocations is coupled by tunneling amplitude of tz = 0.05 eV to the s-wave superconductor. The sSC has the band structure well-matched with that of the oxide surface (see Methods for the band structure details) and the pairing gap of | As| = 0.05 eV. Figure 2(b,c) shows the probability distribution of the dislocation zero energy states, showing sharp peak for both the oxide surface and the sSC, even though the latter does not have any dislocation.

This wave function profile suggests that the STM would be a good experimental probe on our dislocation Majorana zero mode53. When the STM tip is brought to the sSC as shown in Fig. 2(a), the local differential conductance -d^ (r, t) is proportional to the local density of state (LDOS) of the sSC, p (r, u)= Yz[|uz(r)|28(u — E{) + |vz(r)|28(u + Ez)] where the uz, vz are the electron and hole components of the z'-th energy eigenstates, up to replacing the delta function by a Lorentzian with the width given by the STM energy resolution, which is chosen to be 0.1 meV for Fig. 2(d). We therefore predict that the STM will see a sharp zero bias anomaly when it is brought to the point on the sSC that is right over the dislocation, the point a of Fig. 2(d). This anomaly is unambiguously separated from the signal of other low lying states, which has a minimum energy of the induced oxide bulk pairing gap ~1.2 meV. This is because the Majorana zero mode is the only midgap state

localized at the dislocation, unlike at the Abrikosov vortex where other low energy (~-y-, where A is the pairing gap and Ef the Fermi energy) bound states are present. Hence the zero bias anomaly in the crystalline dislocation can be regarded as more unambiguous signature of the Majorana zero mode than that of the Abrikosov vortex54.

Dislocation Majorana zero mode in intrinsic superconductivity. We now consider the case of intrinsic superconductivity in the oxide 2DEG without proximity to conventional superconductors. When the oxide 2DEG becomes superconducting at this electron density, there arises possibility of a protected Kramer's doublet of Majorana zero modes at each dislocation when no Zeeman field is applied. Due to the Rashba spin-orbit coupling, the intrinsic superconductivity should generically have on the Fermi surface a mixture of the s-wave pairing and the p-wave pairing, the latter with momentum-dependent Cooper pair spin state (this feature is independent of the debate on whether the pairing symmetry of the intrinsic superconductivity will follow25 that of the doped bulk

Figure 3. (a) shows the energy gap A when we have mixture of the time-reversal invariantp-wave and the s-wave pairing, with n = 0 giving us the purely p-wave pairing and n = 1 giving us the purely s-wave pairing. Note that for hZ ^ 0, there need not be any gap closing in going from the pure p-wave to the pure s-wave pairing, suggesting that the two topological phases for the p-wave pairing - one at high hZ (in pink) and the other at low hZ (in blue) - are identical to those of the s-wave pairing. By contrast, for the case hZ = 0, where the time-reversal symmetry is preserved, the gap closing around n = 0.7 shows that the p-wave pairing (in orange) and the s-wave pairing are topologically distinct. (b) shows the probability distributions for the two dislocation zero energy states obtained for hZ = 0 and n = 0.4, which have exactly identical profile. (c) shows the energy level spacing for the eigenmodes with non-negative energies, again for hZ = 0 and n = 0.4. For all positive energy eigenstates, separated from the zero energy by a gap of ~12 meV, there is double degeneracy due to the time-reversal symmetry. At the zero energy, we used the full and dotted lines to indicate the quadruple degeneracy at the zero energy from the occupancies and vacancies of the two zero energy states originating from the Kramer's double of Majorana zero modes at each dislocation.

SrTiO355, or not27). For simplicity, we assume the following intra-orbital on-site and the nearest-neighbor pairing preserve the time-reversal symmetry56:

Hpair = |As E(crV0cr!j + h.c.) r

- lAt E E [cr!+e, (sisx) T 0cr! + h.c4

r i=x,y (6)

With this pairing, the BdG Hamiltonian along the kx = n cut,

KtBdo(kx = n) = fz[2t(1 - cos ky) - 6f + 2a0sx sin ky]

+ fx (( - |At|sx sin ky) (7)

will be that of a time-reversal invariant 1D topological superconductor in class DIII52,57 when Si > 0 and |A s| < | A t||sinky| is satisfied at the Fermi surfaces so that the gaps at the two Fermi surfaces have the opposite signs. In that case, there exists of a branch of helical Majorana edge state around kx,y = n. This means that, when we use the argument of the previous section with the additional constraint of the time-reversal symmetry, there should be a Kramer's doublet of Majorana zero modes at a dislocation with the Burger's vector of B = X or y. Such a Majorana zero mode doublet has been shown to be topologically protected as long as the time-reversal symmetry is preserved52,57,58, i.e. the Zeeman field is zero.

When the Zeeman field is non-zero, there can be a "re-entrant" unpaired Majorana zero modes at the dislocation. This is because Eq. (7) with the addition of the Zeeman field

fttBdG (kx = n, ky) = ¡iz[2t (1 - cos ky) - 6^ + 2a0sx sin ky]

- szhZ + ^x(IAs I - |At|sx sin ky), (8)

in the hZ > (S^)2 + \AS f regime is topologically equivalent to the topological phase of Eq. (6). Hence, for Si > 0 at hZ = 0, if the triplet pairing dominates, i.e. |As| < |At||sinky| at the Fermi surfaces, there is a Kramer's doublet of Majorana zero modes at each dislocation for hZ = 0 and a single Majorana zero mode for hZ > (Si)2 + |As|2.

Given that gap closing cannot be avoided at the topological quantum phase transition, Fig. 3(a) gives us the complete topological phase diagram for the intrinsic superconductivity at a fixed Si = 0.02 eV. In this plot, the tuning parameter n is introduced to determine the relative strength of the p-wave and s-wave pairings, i.e. A = nAs + r1(1 - n) |At01 (sy sin kx - sx sin ky) where A5 = A| T + r2(2/n)(1 - n)arctan(hz/hz0)] (we have set |A sq| = 0.04 eV, |A J = 0.08 eV and hzo = 0.01 eV; a phase difference between the s-wave and the p-wave pairings was introduced, in order to have the pairing terms break the time-reversal symmetry when hZ^ 0). For hZ^ 0, as shown in Fig. 3(a), it is always possible to adiabatically tune n from 0 to 1 without gap closing, while for any value of n, one cannot increase hZ without closing the bulk gap at some point. We therefore

conclude that the non-trivial high (trivial low) hZ phase at n = 1 is topologically equivalent to that of n = 0, the purely s-wave pairing case we considered in the previous subsection. However, if we restrict ourselves to the case with time-reversal symmetry, i.e. hZ = 0, Fig. 3(a) shows there is a gap closing around n = 0.7, consistent with the fact that the time-reversal invariant p-wave pairing (n = 0) is topologically distinct from the pure s-wave pairing (n = 1). At n = 0.4 and hZ = 0, the two zero energy states localized at the two edge dislocations with exactly identical probability distribution, as shown in Fig. 3(b), indicates the existence of the Kramer's doublet of Majorana zero modes at each dislocation. This confirms that the existence of the Kramer's doublet of Majorana zero modes at each dislocation characterizes this time-reversal invariant topologically non-trivial phase. This means that with an STM with an s-wave superconducting tip over this dislocation, we should be able to observe time-reversal anomaly58. As in the case of the proximity induced superconductivity, these dislocation Majorana zero modes, as shown by Fig. 3(c), are the only subgap modes of the system.


We have shown in this paper how isolated dislocation Majorana zero mode can arise from both the proximity induced and intrinsic superconductivity in the oxide 2DEG. Its existence can be considered the most pertinent criterion for the topologically non-trivial superconductivity in the oxide 2DEG, and it can be experimentally detected through STM. The crucial requirement for achieving such superconductivity is that the oxide 2DEG needs to be close to the Lifshitz transition.

The key difference between the proximity-induced and the intrinsic oxide 2DEG superconductivity is that the Zeeman field is a necessary condition for the non-trivial topology in the former but not for the latter. The physical consequence is that for the intrinsic superconductivity in the absence of the Zeeman field, the dislocation can host a Kramer's doublet of Majorana zero modes; this is not possible if the superconductivity is induced through proximity to an s-wave superconductor. By contrast, in the presence of nonzero Zeeman field, the only possible protected midgap state on a dislocation is a single Majorana zero mode regardless of the origin of superconductivity.

While our intrinsic superconductivity with the non-trivial weak index at the zero Zeeman field has the essentially same pairing symmetry as the topological superconductivity investigated by Scheurer and Schmalian27, these states are topologically distinct. From Eq.(7), our non-trivial phase requires 6л > 0 while that of Scheurer and Schmalian requires 6л < 0 with the Fermi surfaces enclosing the Г point, and with this pairing symmetry the gap closing around 6 л = 0 cannot be avoided. This reflects the fact that, with the reflection symmetry, the topological invariant of the DIII class in 2D can be Z rather than Z259'60. The existence (absence) of the dislocation Majorana doublet for 6л > 0 (6л < 0) can be regarded as a physical manifestation of this topological distinction. We leave to future work what type of interaction would favor this pairing symmetry near the Lifshitz transition.

Lastly, we want to point out that it is generically easy to change the topology of the superconducting state of the (001) perovskite oxide 2DEGs. This is because the universal anisotropic band structure makes it easy to access the van Hove singularity through gating and optically inducing oxygen vacancies. While there have been previous works on the physical realization of the the dislocation Majorana zero mode34-37, they have not provided easy means to alter the weak indices of the superconducting states. Therefore we conclude that not only is the dislocation Majorana zero mode the most robust topological feature of the oxide 2DEG superconductor but also that the oxide 2DEG superconductor is the particularly suitable system for realizing the dislocation Majorana zero mode.


Weak indices and dislocation Majorana zero modes. It is possible in a 2D superconductor on a square lattice to consider the 1D topological invariants defined along kxy = n, which are known as the weak indices61-63. In general, the weak index v, can be defined for each time-reversal invariant momentum G/2 (which makes Gj a reciprocal lattice vector) as a topological invariant of the manifold perpendicular to G, but contains G,/2, and hence the weak indices can be written as a single vector v = E ¡VjG, where Gj is the unit vector parallel to Gj. The C4v symmetry of of our 2DEG means that its v will have only a single independent component v and therefore can be written as v = v(1, 1). The weak indices is clearly topologically protected when the system has crystalline symmetry, the topological crystalline insulators64 being one class of examples. In this paper, we will focus on its manifestation through the Majorana zero mode localized at its crystalline topological defect - the edge dislocation32-35.

We first note that the non-trivial weak indices in a superconductor imply the existence of a branch of Majorana edge modes around kedge = n. Since restricting ourselves to the kx = n manifold means converting the 2D mean-field Hamiltonian HBdG(kx, ky) into the 1D Hamiltonian HBdG(kx = n, ky), the non-trivial weak index means that, for the simplest case of the class D, where the time-reversal symmetry is broken, a single protected Majorana zero mode exists at kx = n for the edge running in the x-direction. This is possible only if there is a branch of chiral Majorana edge state centered around kx = n. Note that the existence of this branch of the edge state is determined by the projection of v to the time-reversal invariant momentum (n, 0).

A single Majorana zero mode exists at the edge dislocation when there is a chiral Majorana edge state centered around kedge = n. To see how this arises, note that the dislocation can be created by severing all links, both through hopping and interaction, between two halves (y < 0 and y > 0) and then non-trivially re-connect the two halves to introduce the edge dislocation, with the x < 0 part glued back according to the original links but the x> 0 part has all the links altered by translating the sites of the y > 0 half by a lattice constant along the x-direction, which sets the Burger's vector of this dislocation to be B = x30,32. Now when this system was cut, there would have been Majorana edge states along the x-direction for both y < 0 andy > 0 with the opposite chirality. Hence when the system is glued back along the original links, the tunneling between the two edges would lead to the backscatter-ing that gaps out these edge modes, with the mass gap being proportional to the tunneling amplitude. However, when the dislocation described above is introduced, there will be a qualitative effect on the tunneling between the kx = n edge state. This is because the kx = n edge mode wave function reverses its sign when we translate by one lattice site along the x-direction, the relative sign of the kx = n edge modes for y < 0 andy > 0 edges will change its

sign at the dislocation. That means that if a dislocation is introduced when we glue back with only infinitesimally weak coupling across y = 0, the effective low energy action along y = 0 for the kx = n edge modes would be

Seff = f dx VT

idt + idx im0 sgn(x) —im0 sgn(x) idt — idx

where the upper and the lower component correspond to the upper and the lower edge and m0 is proportional to the tunneling amplitude for the kx = n modes; this action is well-known for having a single Majorana zero mode at our dislocation x = 0:

ro = :^m°exp( - m0|x|) 1

By contrast, the existence of the kx = 0 branch is irrelevant as its tunneling amplitude does not change sign at the dislocation. Since the Majorana zero mode is protected as long as it remains separated from other Majorana zero mode, the Majorana zero mode that arose at the infinitesimal coupling across the y = 0 cut will persist when the coupling across y = 0 is increased to the bulk values. In general, the condition for the existence of the protected Majorana zero mode is v ■ B = 1 (mod 2).

We can similarly show the existence of a Kramer's doublet of Majorana zero modes at the edge dislocation when there is a helical Majorana edge state centered around kedge = n. The key point here is that dislocation involves no time-reversal symmetry breaking and therefore, in the 'cut and paste' picture, the Kramer's doublet needs to be maintained even with the inter-edge backscattering. Therefore, when is is the intra-edge time-reversal operation, the effective low energy action for the kx = n helical edge mode would be

Seff = i dx V

idf + isz d x

i (szm + sxm')sgn(x)

-i (szm + sxm')sgn(x) This action gives us two Majorana zero modes,

isz d x

cos m x sin m'lx|

exp(-mlxl) 2 cos m'lx|

- sin m x

cos m'lx|

--exp( —mlxl)

2 — sin m'|x|

which form a Kramer's doublet, i.e. (isy)r± = .

Real space Hamiltonian with dislocation. We need to have the real-space BdG Hamiltonian in order to obtain the dislocation Majorana zero mode through exact diagonalization. We first note that the terms in our real-space Hamiltonian could be divided into three groups, the first being the onsite term,

E( + °hZ) cla,aS0T0cw

- AE(crtszrycr + h.c.) + Honsite—pair,

consisting of the chemical potential, the Zeeman energy, the atomic spin-orbit coupling and the onsite pairing, the second being the nearest neighbor terms

HH nn = EE H eXr),

r i=x ,y

Hei(r) = - t E Sa,i(crt+ei,as0cr,a + h.c.)

a=x ,y

- tf E (1 - ¿a,i)(crt+ei,as0cr,a + h.c.)

a =x ,y

+ aE['

(i£usi) cr,a + h.c.

'r+ei,a v ij y r,a

+ Hnn-pair(r, ei), (15)

which includes the spin-conserving intra-orbital nearest neighbor hopping, the Rashba spin-orbit coupling, and the nearest-neighbor time-reversal invariant pairing. Lastly, we have the next-nearest neighbor hopping,

H nnn = EEK e x+se y(r),

r s=±

Kex ±e y(r) = T'"EE(Ci+e, +se yS0T xCr + h.c0.

r s=± (16)

which gives us the spin-independent component of the orbital hybridization. For the proximity-induced superconductivity, we set the nearest neighbor pairing to be zero, i.e. Hnn-pair(r, e) = 0, and set the onsite pairing to be originated entirely from a two-band s-wave superconductor:


where Hs is given by

H onsite—pair = — tiE (crts0r of r + + Hs>

HS = - ts E 6aJ(f+e,,aSofr,a + h.c.)

J r+ei,a 0 r,a

a=x ,y

yr+ei,a 0 r,a

a =x y

t's E (1 - 6a,i)(frt+ei,aSofr,a + h.c.)

- ^EftSoTofr + lAs E(frtTf + h.c.)

(in Fig. 2, we have set ts = t, t's = t and ¡is = — o.7 eV for the maximal proximity effect), while for the intrinsic superconductivity calculation shown in Fig. 3, we set the pairing terms to be

H onsite—pair = V\Asol [1 — i(2/n)(l — n)arctan(hZ/hZo) ] E (crVoCr!j + h.c.),

Hnn—pair(r, ei) = — (1 — n) |Ato| [cr1+ei (sisx)Toct + h.c.], (19)

where we have set | Aso| = o.o4 eV, | Aio| = o.o8 eV, hZo = o.o1 eV with o < n < 1 determining the relative contribution of the p- and s-wave pairings. For the intrinsic superconductivity under a finite hZ, the phase difference between the s-wave and the p-wave pairing were added so that the pairing terms would break time-reversal symmetry.

In the real space, the dislocation point serves as a starting point for a branch cut along which the nearest-neighbor Hamiltonian He (r) is applied on a next-nearest neighbor link. Our square lattice Nx = 24o by Ny = 24o latitce has a periodic boundary condition to both direction. In order to have a dislocations at (Nx/4, Ny/2 + 1) with the Burger's vector B = +ex and another dislocation at (3Nx/4, Ny/2) with B = — ex, we apply He on the links connecting (n, Ny/2) and (n +1, Ny/2 + 1) for Nx/4 < n < 3Nx/4, Ke +e on the link connecting (n, Ny/2) and (n + 2, Ny/2 + 1) for Nx/4 < n < 3Nx/4 — 1, and Ke -e on the link'connecting (n, Ny/2) and (n,

Ny/2 + 1); meanwhile between the two nearest neighbor pairs (Nx/4, Ny/2) and (Nx/4, Ny/2 + 1), (3Nx/4, Ny/2) and (3Nx/4, Ny/2 + 1) and also between the two next-nearest neighbor pairs (Nx/4, Ny/2 + 1) and (Nx/4 + 1, Ny/2), (3Nx/4 — 1, Ny/2 + 1) and (3Nx/4, Ny/2), all hoppings and pairings are set to zero. Note that for the case of proximity-induced superconductivity, the s-wave superconductor remains completely free of crystalline defects.

While we set some of the parameters to be rather large for the sake of convenience in the numerical calculation, such choice does not affect the topological properties of the system. For instance, A = o.26 eV is about factor of 2 larger than the estimated value for the tantalum atom, while ao = o.o5 eV is several times larger than the estimated value from the magnetoconductivity measurement65. These choices are intended to increase the bulk energy gap so that our lattice size is sufficient to see a localized dislocation zero mode. This increase in the bulk energy gap occurs away from the BZ boundary kxy = n, e.g. the larger ao increases the energy gap along kx = ± ky, while the larger A lifts the higher dxz/yz band away from the Fermi level. Such changes do not affect weak indices, which are the 1D topological invariant along kxy = n. Concerning real materials and experiments, as long as the system is in the topological regime and the induced bulk gap is large enough, i.e. much larger than the STM resolution, the dislocation Majorana zero mode and the zero energy anomaly can be detected clearly as shown in Fig. 2(c).

Lastly, we point out that with our p-wave pairing in Fig. 3(a) for hZ = o allows for a finite range of n for which there are nodal quasiparticles. While it is possible in principle to come up with a p-wave pairing for which the energy gap closes for only a single value of n, such p-wave pairing should have constant magnitude over the entire Fermi surface, which in general is not possible with our nearest-neighbor pairing.


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We would like to thank Erez Berg, Harold Y. Hwang, Minu Kim, Takahiro Morimoto, Naoto Nagaosa, Tae Won Noh, Srinivas Raghu and Shoucheng Zhang for helpful discussions. This work is supported in part by IBS-Roo9-Y1 (SBC), the Thousand-Young-Talent Program of China (HY), and by the NSFC under Grant No. 11474175 (CC and HY).

Author Contributions

All authors contributed significantly to the discussions as well as the writing of the manuscript. S.B.C. contributed most of the analytic derivations and C.C. contributed most of the numerical calculations.

Additional Information

Supplementary information accompanies this paper at

Competing financial interests: The authors declare no competing financial interests.

How to cite this article: Chung, S. B. et al. Dislocation Majorana zero modes in perovskite oxide 2DEG. Sci. Rep. 6, 25184; doi: 1o.1o38/srep25184 (2o16).

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