Soliton fractional charges in graphene nanoribbon and polyacetylene: Similarities and differences

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An introductory overview of current research developments regarding solitons and fractional boundary charges in graphene nanoribbons is presented. Graphene nanoribbons and polyacetylene have chiral symmetry and share numerous similar properties, e.g., the bulk-edge correspondence between the Zak phase and the existence of edge states, along with the presence of chiral boundary states, which are important for charge fractionalization. In polyacetylene, a fermion mass potential in the Dirac equation produces an excitation gap, and a twist in this scalar potential produces a zero-energy chiral soliton. Similarly, in a gapful armchair graphene nanoribbon, a distortion in the chiral gauge field can produce soliton states. In polyacetylene, a soliton is bound to a domain wall connecting two different dimerized phases. In graphene nanoribbons, a domain-wall soliton connects two topological zigzag edges with different chiralities. However, such a soliton does not display spin-charge separation. The existence of a soliton in finite-length polyacetylene can induce formation of fractional charges on the opposite ends. In contrast, for gapful graphene nanoribbons, the antiferromagnetic coupling between the opposite zigzag edges induces integer boundary charges. The presence of disorder in graphene nanoribbons partly mitigates antiferromagnetic coupling effect. Hence, the average edge charge of gap states with energies within a small interval is e/2, with significant charge fluctuations. However, midgap states exhibit a well-defined charge fractionalization between the opposite zigzag edges in the weak-disorder regime. Numerous occupied soliton states in a disorder-free and doped zigzag graphene nanoribbon form a solitonic phase.

Original languageEnglish
Article number885
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Education, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) (grant number NRF-2018R1D1A1A09082332).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Chiral symmetry
  • Fractional charge
  • Graphene nanoribbon
  • Soliton
  • Topological insulator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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