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Journal Article

Skyrme Insulators: Insulators at the Brink of Superconductivity


Erten,  Onur
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Erten, O., Chang, P.-Y., Coleman, P., & Tsvelik, A. M. (2017). Skyrme Insulators: Insulators at the Brink of Superconductivity. Physical Review Letters, 119(5): 057603. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.057603.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002E-27DD-E
Current theories of superfluidity are based on the idea of a coherent quantum state with topologically protected quantized circulation. When this topological protection is absent, as in the case of He-3-A, the coherent quantum state no longer supports persistent superflow. Here, we argue that the loss of topological protection in a superconductor gives rise to an insulating ground state. We specifically introduce the concept of a Skyrme insulator to describe the coherent dielectric state that results from the topological failure of superflow carried by a complex-vector order parameter. We apply this idea to the case of SmB6, arguing that the observation of a diamagnetic Fermi surface within an insulating bulk can be understood as a realization of this state. Our theory enables us to understand the linear specific heat of SmB6 in terms of a neutral Majorana Fermi sea and leads us to predict that in low fields of order a Gauss, SmB6 will develop a Meissner effect.