Rapid surface oxidation as a source of surface degradation factor for Bi₂Se₃

ACS Nano. 2011 Jun 28;5(6):4698-703. doi: 10.1021/nn200556h. Epub 2011 May 23.


Bismuth selenide (Bi(2)Se(3)) is a topological insulator with metallic surface states (SS) residing in a large bulk bandgap. In experiments, synthesized Bi(2)Se(3) is often heavily n-type doped due to selenium vacancies. Furthermore, it is discovered from experiments on bulk single crystals that Bi(2)Se(3) gets additional n-type doping after exposure to the atmosphere, thereby reducing the relative contribution of SS in total conductivity. In this article, transport measurements on Bi(2)Se(3) nanoribbons provide additional evidence of such environmental doping process. Systematic surface composition analyses by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy reveal fast formation and continuous growth of native oxide on Bi(2)Se(3) under ambient conditions. In addition to n-type doping at the surface, such surface oxidation is likely the material origin of the degradation of topological SS. Appropriate surface passivation or encapsulation may be required to probe topological SS of Bi(2)Se(3) by transport measurements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.