Mirror Chern numbers in the hybrid Wannier representation

Tomáš Rauch, Thomas Olsen, David Vanderbilt, Ivo Souza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The topology of electronic states in band insulators with mirror symmetry can be classified in two different ways. One is in terms of the mirror Chern number, an integer that counts the number of protected Dirac cones in the Brillouin zone of high-symmetry surfaces. The other is via a Z2 index that distinguishes between systems that have a nonzero quantized orbital magnetoelectric coupling ("axion-odd"), and those that do not ("axion-even"); this classification can also be induced by other symmetries in the magnetic point group, including time reversal and inversion. A systematic characterization of the axion Z2 topology has previously been obtained by representing the valence states in terms of hybrid Wannier functions localized along one chosen crystallographic direction, and inspecting the associated Wannier band structure. Here we focus on mirror symmetry, and extend that characterization to the mirror Chern number. We choose the direction orthogonal to the mirror plane as the Wannierization direction and show that the mirror Chern number can be determined from the winding numbers of the touching points between Wannier bands on mirror-invariant planes and from the Chern numbers of flat bands pinned to those planes. In this representation, the relation between the mirror Chern number and the axion Z2 index is readily established. The formalism is illustrated by means of ab initio calculations for SnTe in the monolayer and bulk forms, complemented by tight-binding calculations for a toy model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number195103
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 3 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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