Ripple-modulated electronic structure of a 3D topological insulator

Nat Commun. 2012;3:1158. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2150.


Three-dimensional topological insulators host linearly dispersing states with unique properties and a strong potential for applications. An important ingredient in realizing some of the more exotic states in topological insulators is the ability to manipulate local electronic properties. Direct analogy to the Dirac material graphene suggests that a possible avenue for controlling local properties is via a controlled structural deformation such as the formation of ripples. However, the influence of such ripples on topological insulators is yet to be explored. Here we use scanning tunnelling microscopy to determine the effects of one-dimensional buckling on the electronic properties of Bi(2)Te(3.) By tracking spatial variations of the interference patterns generated by the Dirac electrons we show that buckling imposes a periodic potential, which locally modulates the surface-state dispersion. This suggests that forming one- and two-dimensional ripples is a viable method for creating nanoscale potential landscapes that can be used to control the properties of Dirac electrons in topological insulators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't