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Observation of a topological crystalline insulator phase and topological phase transition in Pb1−xSnxTe


Xu, Su-Yang; Liu, Chang; Alidoust, N; Neupane, M; Qian, D; Belopolski, I; Denlinger, J D; Wang, Y J; Lin, H; Wray, L A; Landolt, G; Slomski, B; Dil, J H; Marcinkova, A; Morosan, E; Gibson, Q; Sankar, R; Chou, F C; Cava, R J; Bansil, A; Hasan, M Z (2012). Observation of a topological crystalline insulator phase and topological phase transition in Pb1−xSnxTe. Nature Communications, 3:1192.

Abstract

A topological insulator protected by time-reversal symmetry is realized via spin–orbit interaction-driven band inversion. The topological phase in the Bi1−xSbx system is due to an odd number of band inversions. A related spin–orbit system, the Pb1−xSnxTe, has long been known to contain an even number of inversions based on band theory. Here we experimentally investigate the possibility of a mirror symmetry-protected topological crystalline insulator phase in the Pb1−xSnxTe class of materials that has been theoretically predicted to exist in its end compound SnTe. Our experimental results show that at a finite Pb composition above the topological inversion phase transition, the surface exhibits even number of spin-polarized Dirac cone states revealing mirror-protected topological order distinct from that observed in Bi1−xSbx. Our observation of the spin-polarized Dirac surface states in the inverted Pb1−xSnxTe and their absence in the non-inverted compounds related via a topological phase transition provide the experimental groundwork for opening the research on novel topological order in quantum devices.

Abstract

A topological insulator protected by time-reversal symmetry is realized via spin–orbit interaction-driven band inversion. The topological phase in the Bi1−xSbx system is due to an odd number of band inversions. A related spin–orbit system, the Pb1−xSnxTe, has long been known to contain an even number of inversions based on band theory. Here we experimentally investigate the possibility of a mirror symmetry-protected topological crystalline insulator phase in the Pb1−xSnxTe class of materials that has been theoretically predicted to exist in its end compound SnTe. Our experimental results show that at a finite Pb composition above the topological inversion phase transition, the surface exhibits even number of spin-polarized Dirac cone states revealing mirror-protected topological order distinct from that observed in Bi1−xSbx. Our observation of the spin-polarized Dirac surface states in the inverted Pb1−xSnxTe and their absence in the non-inverted compounds related via a topological phase transition provide the experimental groundwork for opening the research on novel topological order in quantum devices.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:49
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:21
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms2191

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