Observation of possible topological in-gap surface states in the Kondo insulator SmB6 by photoemission

Nat Commun. 2013;4:3010. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4010.


SmB6, a well-known Kondo insulator, exhibits a transport anomaly at low temperature. This anomaly is usually attributed to states within the hybridization gap. Recent theoretical work and transport measurements suggest that these in-gap states could be ascribed to topological surface states, which would make SmB6 the first realization of topological Kondo insulator. Here by performing angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy experiments, we directly observe several dispersive states within the hybridization gap of SmB6. These states show negligible kz dependence, which indicates their surface origin. Furthermore, we perform photoemission circular dichroism experiments, which suggest that the in-gap states possess chirality of the orbital angular momentum. These states vanish simultaneously with the hybridization gap at around 150 K. Together, these observations suggest the possible topological origin of the in-gap states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't