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Evidence of a room-temperature quantum spin Hall edge state in a higher-order topological insulator


Abstract

Room-temperature realization of macroscopic quantum phases is one of the major pursuits in fundamental physics1,2. The quantum spin Hall phase3-6 is a topological quantum phase that features a two-dimensional insulating bulk and a helical edge state. Here we use vector magnetic field and variable temperature based scanning tunnelling microscopy to provide micro-spectroscopic evidence for a room-temperature quantum spin Hall edge state on the surface of the higher-order topological insulator Bi4Br4. We find that the atomically resolved lattice exhibits a large insulating gap of over 200 meV, and an atomically sharp monolayer step edge hosts an in-gap gapless state, suggesting topological bulk-boundary correspondence. An external magnetic field can gap the edge state, consistent with the time-reversal symmetry protection inherent in the underlying band topology. We further identify the geometrical hybridization of such edge states, which not only supports the Z2 topology of the quantum spin Hall state but also visualizes the building blocks of the higher-order topological insulator phase. Our results further encourage the exploration of high-temperature transport quantization of the putative topological phase reported here.

Abstract

Room-temperature realization of macroscopic quantum phases is one of the major pursuits in fundamental physics1,2. The quantum spin Hall phase3-6 is a topological quantum phase that features a two-dimensional insulating bulk and a helical edge state. Here we use vector magnetic field and variable temperature based scanning tunnelling microscopy to provide micro-spectroscopic evidence for a room-temperature quantum spin Hall edge state on the surface of the higher-order topological insulator Bi4Br4. We find that the atomically resolved lattice exhibits a large insulating gap of over 200 meV, and an atomically sharp monolayer step edge hosts an in-gap gapless state, suggesting topological bulk-boundary correspondence. An external magnetic field can gap the edge state, consistent with the time-reversal symmetry protection inherent in the underlying band topology. We further identify the geometrical hybridization of such edge states, which not only supports the Z2 topology of the quantum spin Hall state but also visualizes the building blocks of the higher-order topological insulator phase. Our results further encourage the exploration of high-temperature transport quantization of the putative topological phase reported here.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Chemistry
Physical Sciences > General Materials Science
Physical Sciences > Condensed Matter Physics
Physical Sciences > Mechanics of Materials
Physical Sciences > Mechanical Engineering
Uncontrolled Keywords:Mechanical Engineering, Mechanics of Materials, Condensed Matter Physics, General Materials Science, General Chemistry
Language:English
Date:1 October 2022
Deposited On:20 Feb 2023 17:36
Last Modified:28 Jun 2024 01:43
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1476-1122
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-022-01304-3
PubMed ID:35835819