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Nontrivial Quantum Geometry and the Strength of Electron-Phonon Coupling

The coupling of electrons to phonons (electron-phonon coupling) is crucial for the existence of various phases of matter, in particular superconductivity and density waves. While the consequences of nontrivial quantum geometry/topology are well-established in electronic bands, countless studies of the bulk electron-phonon coupling strength performed in the pre-topological era missed a crucial aspect of multi-band electron systems coupled to phonons: the effect of electron band geometry and/or topology on the electron-phonon coupling. We devise a theory that incorporates the quantum geometry of the electron bands into the electron-phonon coupling. We find that the Fubini-Study quantum metric contributes indispensably to the dimensionless electron-phonon coupling constant, and we generalize the fundamental concept of quantum geometry to take into account orbital selective quantities, which also can play a dominant role in the electron-phonon coupling. More specifically, we show, in a simple analytic model, why the electron quantum geometry is essential to a deep understanding of the bulk electron-phonon coupling. Furthermore, we apply the theory to two of the famous materials, graphene and MgB2 where the geometric contributions account for approximately 50% and 90% of the total electron-phonon coupling constant, respectively. The quantum geometric contributions in the two systems are further bounded from below by topological contributions, arising from the winding numbers of nodal points/lines or the effective Euler number — topological aspects previously unknown in MgB2. Given that MgB2 is a phonon-mediated superconductor with critical temperature about 39K, our results suggest that the nontrivial electron band geometry/topology might favor superconductivity with relatively high critical temperature.

Read the whole article in arXiv.