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Surface conduction of topological Dirac electrons in bulk insulating Bi2Se3

By Dohun Kim, Sungjae Cho, Nicholas P. Butch, Paul Syers, Kevin Kirshenbaum, Shaffique Adam, Johnpierre Paglione and Michael S. Fuhrer


The newly-discovered three-dimensional strong topological insulators (STIs) exhibit topologically-protected Dirac surface states. While the STI surface state has been studied spectroscopically by e.g. photoemission and scanned probes, transport experiments have failed to demonstrate the most fundamental signature of the STI: ambipolar metallic electronic transport in the topological surface of an insulating bulk. Here we show that the surfaces of thin (<10 nm), low-doped Bi2Se3 (\approx10^17/cm3) crystals are strongly electrostatically coupled, and a gate electrode can completely remove bulk charge carriers and bring both surfaces through the Dirac point simultaneously. We observe clear surface band conduction with linear Hall resistivity and well-defined ambipolar field effect, as well as a charge-inhomogeneous minimum conductivity region. A theory of charge disorder in a Dirac band explains well both the magnitude and the variation with disorder strength of the minimum conductivity (2 to 5 e^2/h per surface) and the residual (puddle) carrier density (0.4 x 10^12 cm^-2 to 4 x 10^12 cm^-2). From the measured carrier mobilities 320 cm^2/Vs to 1,500 cm^2/Vs, the charged impurity densities 0.5 x 10^13 cm^-2 to 2.3 x 10^13 cm^-2 are inferred. They are of a similar magnitude to the measured doping levels at zero gate voltage (1 x 10^13 cm^-2 to 3 x 10^13 cm^-2), identifying dopants as the charged impurities.Comment: The manuscript has been significantly revised with new data set

Topics: Condensed Matter - Mesoscale and Nanoscale Physics, Condensed Matter - Materials Science, Condensed Matter - Strongly Correlated Electrons
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1038/nphys2286
OAI identifier:
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