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High contrast elliptic operators in honeycomb structures

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posted on 2023-01-11, 22:24 authored by Maxence Cassier, Michael I. Weinstein
We study the band structure of self-adjoint elliptic operators $\mathbb{A}_g= -
abla \cdot \sigma_{g}
abla$, where $\sigma_g$ has the symmetries of a honeycomb tiling of $\mathbb{R}^2$. We focus on the case where $\sigma_{g}$ is a real-valued scalar: $\sigma_{g}=1$ within identical, disjoint "inclusions", centered at vertices of a honeycomb lattice, and $\sigma_{g}=g \gg1 $ (high contrast) in the complement of the inclusion set (bulk). Such operators govern, e.g. transverse electric (TE) modes in photonic crystal media consisting of high dielectric constant inclusions (semi-conductor pillars) within a homogeneous lower contrast bulk (air), a configuration used in many physical studies. Our approach, which is based on monotonicity properties of the associated energy form, extends to a class of high contrast elliptic operators that model heterogeneous and anisotropic honeycomb media. Our results concern the global behavior of dispersion surfaces, and the existence of conical crossings (Dirac points) occurring in the lowest two energy bands as well as in bands arbitrarily high in the spectrum. Dirac points are the source of important phenomena in fundamental and applied physics, e.g. graphene and its artificial analogues, and topological insulators. The key hypotheses are the non-vanishing of the Dirac (Fermi) velocity $v_D(g)$, verified numerically, and a spectral isolation condition, verified analytically in many configurations. Asymptotic expansions, to any order in $g^{-1}$, of Dirac point eigenpairs and $v_D(g)$ are derived with error bounds. Our study illuminates differences between the high contrast behavior of $\mathbb{A}_g$ and the corresponding strong binding regime for Schroedinger operators.



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