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Covariant Conservation Laws and the Spin Hall Effect in Dirac-Rashba Systems

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JournalPhysical Review Letters
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Dec 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 14 Dec 2017
DatePublished (current) - 15 Dec 2017
Issue number24
Number of pages6
Early online date14/12/17
Original languageEnglish


We present a theoretical analysis of two-dimensional Dirac-Rashba systems in the presence of disorder and external perturbations. We unveil a set of exact symmetry relations (Ward identities) that impose strong constraints on the spin dynamics of Dirac fermions subject to proximity-induced interactions. This allows us to demonstrate that an arbitrary dilute concentration of scalar impurities results in the total suppression of nonequilibrium spin Hall currents when only Rashba spin-orbit coupling is present. Remarkably, a finite spin Hall conductivity is restored when the minimal Dirac-Rashba model is supplemented with a spin–valley interaction. The Ward identities provide a systematic way to predict the emergence of the spin Hall effect in a wider class of Dirac-Rashba systems of experimental relevance and represent an important benchmark for testing the validity of numerical methodologies.

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© 2017 American Physical Society. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details


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