Observation of fractional Chern insulators in a van der Waals heterostructure

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Topologically ordered phases are characterized by long-range quantum entanglement and fractional statistics rather than by symmetry breaking. First observed in a fractionally filled continuum Landau level, topological order has since been proposed to arise more generally at fractional fillings of topologically nontrivial Chern bands. Here we report the observation of gapped states at fractional fillings of Harper-Hofstadter bands arising from the interplay of a magnetic field and a superlattice potential in a bilayer graphene–hexagonal boron nitride heterostructure. We observed phases at fractional filling of bands with Chern indices C =−1, ±2, and ±3. Some of these phases, in C =−1 and C =2 bands, are characterized by fractional Hall conductance—that is, they are known as fractional Chern insulators and constitute an example of topological order beyond Landau levels.

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