Band structures under non-Hermitian periodic potentials: Connecting nearly-free and bi-orthogonal tight-binding models
We explore band structures of one-dimensional open systems described by periodic non-Hermitian operators, based on continuum models and tight-binding models. We show that imaginary scalar potentials do not open band gaps but instead lead to the formation of exceptional points as long as the strength of the potential does not exceed a threshold value, which is in contrast to closed systems where real potentials open a gap with infinitesimally small strength. The imaginary vector potentials hinder the separation of low-energy bands because of the lifting of degeneracy in the free system. In addition, we construct tight-binding models through bi-orthogonal Wannier functions based on Bloch wavefunctions of the non-Hermitian operator and its Hermitian conjugate. We show that the bi-orthogonal tight-binding model well reproduces the dispersion relations of the continuum model when the complex scalar potential is sufficiently large.