Despite much interest in engineering new topological surface (edge) states using structural defects, such topological surface states have not been observed yet. We show that recently imaged tilt boundaries in gated multilayer graphene should support topologically protected gapless edge states. We approach the problem from two perspectives: the microscopic perspective of a tight-binding model and an ab initio calculation on a bilayer, and the symmetry-protected topological (SPT) state perspective for a general multilayer. Hence, we establish the tilt-boundary edge states as the first concrete example of the edge states of symmetry-protected ℤ-type SPT, protected by no-valley mixing, electron-number conservation, and time-reversal T symmetries. Further, we discuss possible phase transitions between distinct SPTs upon symmetry changes. Combined with a recently imaged tilt-boundary network, our findings may explain the long-standing puzzle of subgap conductance in gated bilayer graphene. This proposal can be tested through future transport experiments on tilt boundaries. In particular, the tilt boundaries offer an opportunity for the in situ imaging of topological edge transport.
- Materials Science
- Topological Insulators