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Topological Phases in Graphene Nanoribbons Tuned by Electric Fields


Graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) possess distinct symmetry-protected topological phases. We show, through first-principles calculations, that by applying an experimentally accessible transverse electric field, certain boron and nitrogen periodically codoped GNRs have tunable topological phases. The tunability arises from a field-induced band inversion due to an opposite response of the conduction- and valence-band states to the electric field. With a spatially varying applied field, segments of GNRs of distinct topological phases are created, resulting in a field-programmable array of topological junction states, each may be occupied with charge or spin. Our findings not only show that electric field may be used as an easy tuning knob for topological phases in quasi-one-dimensional systems, but also provide new design principles for future GNR-based quantum electronic devices through their topological characters.

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