Dynamics of Berry-phase polarization in time-dependent electric fields

Ivo Souza, Jorge Íñiguez, David Vanderbilt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


We consider the flow of polarization current J=dP/dt produced by a homogeneous electric field ℰ(t) or by rapidly varying some other parameter in the Hamiltonian of a solid. For an initially insulating system and a collisionless time evolution, the dynamic polarization P(t) is given by a nonadiabatic version of the King-Smith-Vanderbilt geometric-phase formula. This leads to a computationally convenient form for the Schrödinger equation where the electric field is described by a linear scalar potential handled on a discrete mesh in reciprocal space. Stationary solutions in sufficiently weak static fields are local minima of the energy functional of Nunes and Gonze. Such solutions only exist below a critical field that depends inversely on the density of k points. For higher fields they become long-lived resonances, which can be accessed dynamically by gradually increasing ℰ. As an illustration the dielectric function in the presence of a dc bias field is computed for a tight-binding model from the polarization response to a step-function discontinuity in ℰ(t), displaying the Franz-Keldysh effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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