Topological insulators in ternary compounds with a honeycomb lattice

Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Apr 15;106(15):156402. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.156402. Epub 2011 Apr 11.


We investigate a new class of ternary materials such as LiAuSe and KHgSb with a honeycomb structure in Au-Se and Hg-Sb layers. We demonstrate the band inversion in these materials similar to HgTe, which is a strong precondition for existence of the topological surface states. In contrast with graphene, these materials exhibit strong spin-orbit coupling and a small direct band gap at the Γ point. Since these materials are centrosymmetric, it is straightforward to determine the parity of their wave functions, and hence their topological character. Surprisingly, the compound with strong spin-orbit coupling (KHgSb) is trivial, whereas LiAuSe is found to be a topological insulator.