Band structure engineering in (Bi(1-x)Sb(x))(2)Te(3) ternary topological insulators

Nat Commun. 2011 Dec 6;2:574. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1588.


Topological insulators (TIs) are quantum materials with insulating bulk and topologically protected metallic surfaces with Dirac-like band structure. The most challenging problem faced by current investigations of these materials is to establish the existence of significant bulk conduction. Here we show how the band structure of topological insulators can be engineered by molecular beam epitaxy growth of (Bi(1-x)Sb(x))(2)Te(3) ternary compounds. The topological surface states are shown to exist over the entire composition range of (Bi(1-x)Sb(x))(2)Te(3), indicating the robustness of bulk Z(2) topology. Most remarkably, the band engineering leads to ideal TIs with truly insulating bulk and tunable surface states across the Dirac point that behaves like one-quarter of graphene. This work demonstrates a new route to achieving intrinsic quantum transport of the topological surface states and designing conceptually new topologically insulating devices based on well-established semiconductor technology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bismuth / chemistry*
  • Crystallization
  • Electrons
  • Engineering / methods*
  • Graphite / chemistry
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Semiconductors*
  • Surface Properties
  • Tellurium / chemistry*


  • Graphite
  • Tellurium
  • Bismuth