Despite decades of studies on charge density wave (CDW) of 2H-NbSe2, the origin of its incommensurate CDW ground state has not been understood. We discover that CDW of 2H-NbSe2 is composed of two different, energetically competing, structures. The lateral heterostructures of two CDWs are entangled as topological excitations, which give rise to a CDW phase shift and the incommensuration without a conventional domain wall. A partially melt network of the topological excitations and their vertices explain an unusual landscape of domains. The unconventional topological role of competing phases disclosed here can be widely applied to various incommensuration or phase coexistence phenomena in materials.

Published in: "arXiv Material Science".