The continuous quantum phase transition between noninteracting, time-reversal symmetric topological and trivial insulators in three dimensions is described by the massless Dirac fermion. We address the stability of this quantum critical point against short range electronic interactions by using renormalization group analysis and mean field theory. For sufficiently weak interactions, we show that the nature of the direct transition remains unchanged. Beyond a critical strength of interactions we find that either (i) there is a direct first order transition between two time reversal symmetric insulators or (ii) the direct transition is eliminated by an intervening time reversal and inversion odd "axionic" insulator. We also demonstrate the existence of an interaction driven first order quantum phase transition between topological and trivial gapped states in lower dimensions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics