Realizing anomalous anyonic symmetries at the surfaces of three-dimensional gauge theories
AbstractThe hallmark of a two-dimensional (2d) topologically ordered phase is the existence of deconfined “anyon” excitations that have exotic braiding and exchange statistics, different from those of ordinary bosons or fermions. As opposed to conventional Landau-Ginzburg-Wilson phases, which are classified on the basis of the spontaneous breaking of an underlying symmetry, topologically ordered phases, such as those occurring in the fractional quantum Hall effect, are absolutely stable, not requiring any such symmetry. Recently, though, it has been realized that symmetries, which may still be present in such systems, can give rise to a host of new, distinct, many-body phases, all of which share the same underlying topological order. These “symmetry enriched” topological (SET) phases are distinguished not on the basis of anyon braiding statistics alone, but also by the symmetry properties of the anyons, such as their fractional charges, or the way that different anyons are permuted by the symmetry. Thus a useful approach to classifying SETs is to determine all possible such symmetry actions on the anyons that are algebraically consistent with the anyon statistics. Remarkably, however, there exist symmetry actions that, despite being algebraically consistent, cannot be realized in any physical system, and hence do not lead to valid 2d SETs. One class of such “anomalous” SETs, characterized by certain disallowed symmetry fractionalization patterns, finds a physical interpretation as an allowed surface state of certain three-dimensional (3d) short-range entangled phases, but another, characterized by some seemingly valid but anomalous permutation actions of the symmetry on the anyons and encoded in an H3(G,A) group cohomology class, has so far eluded a physical interpretation. In this work, we find a way to physically realize these anomalously permuting SETs at the surfaces of certain 3d long-range entangled phases, expanding our understanding of general anomalous SETs in two dimensions.