Degradation of Phonons in Disordered Moiré Superlattices

Héctor Ochoa, Rafael M. Fernandes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The elastic collective modes of a moiré superlattice arise not from vibrations of a rigid crystal but from the relative displacement between the constituent layers. Despite their similarity to acoustic phonons, these modes, called phasons, are not protected by any conservation law. Here, we show that disorder in the relative orientation between the layers and thermal fluctuations associated with their sliding motion degrade the propagation of sound in the moiré superlattice. Specifically, the phason modes become overdamped at low energies and acquire a finite gap, which displays a universal dependence on the twist-angle variance. Thus, twist-angle inhomogeneity is manifested not only in the noninteracting electronic structure of moiré systems, but also in their phononlike modes. More broadly, our results have important implications for the electronic properties of twisted moiré systems that are sensitive to the electron-phonon coupling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number065901
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 11 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
H. O. acknowledges NSF MRSEC program Grant No. DMR-1420634. R. M. F. was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Science and Engineering Division, under Award No. DE-SC0020045.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Physical Society.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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