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Tuning dirac states by strain in the topological insulator Bi2 Se3

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Publication details

JournalNature Physics
DateAccepted/In press - 23 Jan 2014
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 16 Mar 2014
Issue number4
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)294-299
Early online date16/03/14
Original languageEnglish


Three-dimensional Bi-chalcogenide topological insulators exhibit surface states populated by massless Dirac fermions that are topologically protected from disorder scattering. Here, we demonstrate that these states can be enhanced or destroyed by strain in the vicinity of grain boundaries on the surface of epitaxial Bi Se (0001) thin films. Using scanning tunnelling and transmission electron microscopy, we show that the low-angle tilt grain boundaries in Bi Se (0001) films consist of arrays of alternating edge dislocation pairs. Along the boundary, these dislocations introduce periodic in-plane compressive and tensile strains. From tunnelling spectroscopy experiments and first-principles calculations, we find that whereas the energy of the Dirac state shifts in regions under tensile strain, a gap opens in regions under compressive strain, indicative of the destruction of the Dirac states at the surface. These results demonstrate that Dirac states can be tuned by strain at the atomic scale.

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