Strain Tunable Phononic Topological Bandgaps in Two-Dimensional Hexagonal Boron Nitride

J-W Jiang and H.S. Park
accepted for publication in Journal of Applied Physics 2018 (Invited paper: Special Issue on Strain Engineering in Functional Materials)


The field of topological mechanics has recently emerged due to the interest in robustly transporting various types of energy in a flaw and defect-insensitive fashion. While there have been a significant number of studies based on discovering and proposing topological materials and structures, very few have focused on tuning the resulting topological bandgaps, which is critical because the bandgap frequency is fixed once the structure has been fabricated. Here, we perform both lattice dynamical calculations and molecular dynamical simulations to investigate strain effects on the phononic topological bandgaps in two-dimensional monolayer hexagonal boron nitride. Our studies demonstrate that while the topologically protected phononic bandgaps are not closed even for severely deformed hexagonal boron nitride, and are relatively insensitive to uniaxial tension and shear strains, the position of the frequency gap can be efficiently tuned in a wide range through the application of biaxial strains. Overall, this work thus demonstrates that topological phonons are robust against the effects of mechanical strain engineering, and sheds light on the tunability of the topological bandgaps in nanomaterials.

Topologically Protected Interface Phonons in Two-Dimensional Nanomaterials: Hexagonal Boron Nitride and Silicon Carbide

J-W Jiang, B-S Wang and H.S. Park
Nanoscale 2018; 10:13913-13923


We perform both lattice dynamics analysis and molecular dynamics simulations to demonstrate the existence of topologically protected phonon modes in two-dimensional, monolayer hexagonal boron nitride and silicon carbide sheets. The topological phonon modes are found to be localized at an in-plane interface that divides these systems into two regions of distinct valley Chern numbers. The dispersion of this topological phonon mode crosses over the frequency gap, which is opened through analogy with the quantum valley Hall effect by breaking inversion symmetry of the primitive unit cells. Consequently, vibrational energy with frequency within this gap is topologically protected, resulting in wave propagation that exhibits minimal backscattering, is robust with regards to structural defects such as sharp corners, and exhibits excellent temporal stability. Our findings open up the possibility of actuating and detecting topological phonons in two-dimensional nanomaterials.

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