Magic-angle twisted bilayer graphene at charge neutrality: interactions and disorder

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Stacking two graphene layers twisted by the ‘magic angle’ 1.1º generates flat energy bands, which in turn catalyzes various strongly correlated phenomena depending on filling and sample details. While this system is most famous for the superconducting and insulating states observed at fractional fillings, I argue that charge neutrality presents an interesting interplay of disorder and interactions.


In scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), the most striking signature of interactions occurs close to charge neutrality, where the splitting between the flat bands increases dramatically. In analogy with quantum Hall ferromagnetism, I show that this effect may be qualitatively understood as the result of an exchange energy gain. A low-energy manifold of gapped, symmetry-breaking states is identified, one of which possesses quantum valley Hall order. Transport measurements yield ostensibly conflicting information at charge neutrality: while some samples reveal semimetallicity (as expected when correlations are weak), yet others exhibit robust insulation. I reconcile these observations and those of STM by arguing that strong interactions supplemented by weak, smooth disorder stabilize a network of locally gapped quantum valley Hall domains with spatially varying Chern numbers determined by the disorder landscape—--even when an entirely different order is favored in the clean limit. I conclude with a discussion of experimental tests of this proposal via local probes and transport.