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Polar meron-antimeron networks in strained and twisted bilayers

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Out-of-plane polar domain structures have recently been discovered in strained and twisted bilayers of inver- sion symmetry broken systems such as hexagonal boron nitride. Here we show that this symmetry breaking also gives rise to an in-plane component of polarization, and the form of the total polarization is determined purely from symmetry considerations. The in-plane component of the polarization makes the polar domains in strained and twisted bilayers topologically non-trivial, forming a network of merons and antimerons (half-skyrmions and half-antiskyrmions). For twisted systems, the merons are of Bloch type whereas for strained systems they are of Ne ́el type. We propose that the polar domains in strained or twisted bilayers may serve as a platform for exploring topological physics in layered materials and discuss how control over topological phases and phase transitions may be achieved in such systems.


Funder: University of Liege, IPD-STEMA fellowship St. John’s College, University of Cambridge


51 Physical Sciences, 5104 Condensed Matter Physics

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Nature Communications

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Nature Research
EPSRC (EP/W00187X/1)
D. B. acknowledges funding from the University of Lie ́ge under special funds for research (IPD-STEMA fellowship programme) and St. John’s College, University of Cambridge. R. J. S and G. C. acknowledge funding from a New Investi- gator Award, EPSRC grant EP/W00187X/1. R. J. S also ac- knowledges funding from Trinity College, University of Cam- bridge. E. B. acknowledges the FNRS and the Excellence of Science program (EOS “ShapeME”, No. 40007525) funded by the FWO and F.R.S.-FNRS. Ph. G. acknowledges financial support from F.R.S.-FNRS Belgium (grant PROMOSPAN) and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innova- tion program under grant agreement number 964931 (TSAR). The authors acknowledge the CECI supercomputer facilities funded by the F.R.S-FNRS (Grant No. 2.5020.1) and the Tier- 1 supercomputer of the Fe ́de ́ration Wallonie-Bruxelles funded by the Walloon Region (Grant No. 1117545).