Computing edge states without hard truncation

Kyle Thicke, Alexander B. Watson, Jianfeng Lu

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4 Scopus citations


We present a numerical method which accurately computes the discrete spectrum and associated bound states of semi-infinite Hamiltonians which model electronic “edge” states localized at boundaries of one- and two-dimensional crystalline materials. The problem is nontrivial since arbitrarily large finite “hard” (Dirichlet) truncations of the Hamiltonian in the infinite bulk direction tend to produce spurious bound states partially supported at the truncation. Our method, which overcomes this difficulty, is to compute the Green’s function of the semi-infinite Hamiltonian by imposing an appropriate boundary condition in the bulk direction; then, the spectral data is recovered via Riesz projection. We demonstrate our method’s effectiveness by studies of edge states at a graphene zig-zag edge in the presence of defects modeled both by a discrete tight-binding model and a continuum PDE model under finite difference discretization. Our method may also be used to study states localized at domain wall-type edges in one- and two-dimensional materials where the edge Hamiltonian is infinite in both directions; we demonstrate this for the case of a tight-binding model of distinct honeycomb structures joined along a zig-zag edge. We expect our method to be useful for designing novel devices based on precise wave-guiding by edge states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)B323-B353
JournalSIAM Journal on Scientific Computing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 11 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics


  • Numerical analysis
  • Partial differential equations
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Topological insulators


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