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Topologically Protected Quantization of Work

Mera, B. ; Sacha, K. Sacha ; Omar, Y.

Physical Review Letters Vol. 123, Nº 2, pp. 020601-1 - 020601-6, July, 2019.

ISSN (print): 1079-7114
ISSN (online): 0031-9007

Journal Impact Factor: 7,180 (in 2008)

Digital Object Identifier: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.123.020601

The transport of a particle in the presence of a potential that changes periodically in space and in time can be characterized by the amount of work needed to shift a particle by a single spatial period of the potential. In general, this amount of work, when averaged over a single temporal period of the potential, can take any value in a continuous fashion. Here, we present a topological effect inducing the quantization of the average work. We find that this work is equal to the first Chern number calculated in a unit cell of a space-time lattice. Hence, this quantization of the average work is topologically protected. We illustrate this phenomenon with the example of an atom whose center of mass motion is coupled to its internal degrees of freedom by electromagnetic waves.