Dirac operators and domain walls

Journal Article

We study the eigenvalue problem for a one-dimensional Dirac operator with a spatially varying `mass' term. It is well-known that when the mass function has the form of a kink, or \emph{domain wall}, transitioning between strictly positive and strictly negative asymptotic mass, $\pm\kappa_\infty$, at $\pm\infty$, the Dirac operator has a simple eigenvalue of zero energy (geometric multiplicity equal to one) within a gap in the continuous spectrum, with corresponding \emph{zero mode}, an exponentially localized eigenfunction. We prove that when the mass function has the form of \emph{two} domain walls separated by a sufficiently large distance $2 \delta$, the Dirac operator has two real simple eigenvalues of opposite sign and of order $e^{- 2 |\kappa_\infty| \delta}$. The associated eigenfunctions are, up to $L^2$ error of order $e^{- 2 |\kappa_\infty| \delta}$, linear combinations of shifted copies of the single domain wall zero mode. For the case of three domain walls, there are two non-zero simple eigenvalues as above and a simple eigenvalue at energy zero. Our methods are based on a Lyapunov-Schmidt reduction strategy and we outline their natural extension to the case of $n$ domain walls for which the minimal distance between domain walls is sufficiently large. The class of Dirac operators we consider controls the bifurcation of topologically protected `edge states' from Dirac points (linear band crossings) for classes of Schr\"odinger operators with domain-wall modulated periodic potentials in one and two space dimensions. The present results may be used to construct a rich class of defect modes in periodic structures modulated by multiple domain walls.

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Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lu, J; Watson, AB; Weinstein, MI