Quantum phase transitions and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless temperature in a two-dimensional spin-orbit-coupled Fermi gas
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
Physical review : A : atomic, molecular and optical physics. - Lancaster, Pa, 1990 - 2015
, 15 p.
University of Antwerp
We study the effect of spin-orbit coupling on both the zero-temperature and nonzero-temperature behavior of a two-dimensional Fermi gas. We include a generic combination of Rashba and Dresselhaus terms into the system Hamiltonian, which allows us to study both the experimentally relevant equal-Rashba-Dresselhaus (ERD) limit and the Rashba-only (RO) limit. At zero temperature, we derive the phase diagram as a function of the two-body binding energy and Zeeman field. In the ERD case, this phase diagram reveals several topologically distinct uniform superfluid phases, classified according to the nodal structure of the quasiparticle excitation energies. Furthermore, we use a momentum-dependent SU(2) rotation to transform the system into a generalized helicity basis, revealing that spin-orbit coupling induces a triplet pairing component of the order parameter. At nonzero temperature, we study the Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless (BKT) phase transition by including phase fluctuations of the order parameter up to second order. We show that the superfluid density becomes anisotropic due to the presence of spin-orbit coupling (except in the RO case). This leads both to elliptic vortices and antivortices, and to anisotropic sound velocities. The latter prove to be sensitive to quantum phase transitions between topologically distinct phases. We show further that at a fixed nonzero Zeeman field, the BKT critical temperature is increased by the presence of ERD spin-orbit coupling. Subsequently, we demonstrate that the Clogston limit becomes infinite: TBKT remains nonzero at all finite values of the Zeeman field. We conclude by extending the quantum phase transition lines to nonzero temperature, using the nodal structure of the quasiparticle spectrum, thus connecting the BKT critical temperature with the zero-temperature results.