Field theory of higher-order topological crystalline response, generalized global symmetries and elasticity tetrads

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I discuss aspects of higher-order topological field theory of crystalline insulators with no other symmetries. I show how the topology and geometry of the crystalline lattice is organized in terms of so-called elasticity tetrads which are ground state degrees of freedom labelling translational lattice topological charges, higher-form conservation laws and responses on sub-dimensional manifolds of the bulk insulator. The quasitopological responses obtained in this way depend on the lattice and its embedding in space, as expected for weak topology. In a topological crystalline insulator, they classify higher-order responses and global symmetries in a transparent fashion in generic dimensions. This hierarchy coincides with the dimensional hierarchy of topological terms, the multipole expansion, and anomaly inflow, related to a mixed number of elasticity tetrads and electromagnetic gauge fields. In the continuum limit of the elasticity tetrads, the semi-classical expansion in momentum space can be used to derive the higher-order or subdimensional topological responses to local U(1) symmetries, such as electromagnetic gauge fields, with explicit formulas for the higher-order quasi-topological invariants in terms of the elasticity tetrads and Green's functions. The topological responses in arbitrary dimensions are readily generalized to parameter space to allow for e.g. multipole pumping. The simple results further bridge the recently appreciated connections between topological field theory, higher-form symmetries and gauge fields and their relation to fractonic excitations and topological defects with restricted mobility in the elasticity of crystalline insulators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number169139
Number of pages21
JournalAnnals of Physics
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Effective field theory
  • Elasticity
  • Generalized global symmetries
  • Higher-order topology
  • Topological crystalline insulator
  • Topological multipole crystalline insulator


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