Rashba spin-splitting control at the surface of the topological insulator Bi2Se3

Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Oct 28;107(18):186405. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.186405. Epub 2011 Oct 27.


The electronic structure of Bi(2)Se(3) is studied by angle-resolved photoemission and density functional theory. We show that the instability of the surface electronic properties, observed even in ultrahigh-vacuum conditions, can be overcome via in situ potassium deposition. In addition to accurately setting the carrier concentration, new Rashba-like spin-polarized states are induced, with a tunable, reversible, and highly stable spin splitting. Ab initio slab calculations reveal that these Rashba states are derived from 5-quintuple-layer quantum-well states. While the K-induced potential gradient enhances the spin splitting, this may be present on pristine surfaces due to the symmetry breaking of the vacuum-solid interface.