Atomic-Scale Visualization of Quantum Interference on a Weyl Semimetal Surface by Scanning Tunneling Microscopy

ACS Nano. 2016 Jan 26;10(1):1378-85. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.5b06807. Epub 2016 Jan 12.


Weyl semimetals may open a new era in condensed matter physics, materials science, and nanotechnology after graphene and topological insulators. We report the first atomic scale view of the surface states of a Weyl semimetal (NbP) using scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy. We observe coherent quantum interference patterns that arise from the scattering of quasiparticles near point defects on the surface. The measurements reveal the surface electronic structure both below and above the chemical potential in both real and reciprocal spaces. Moreover, the interference maps uncover the scattering processes of NbP's exotic surface states. Through comparison between experimental data and theoretical calculations, we further discover that the orbital and/or spin texture of the surface bands may suppress certain scattering channels on NbP. These results provide a comprehensive understanding of electronic properties on Weyl semimetal surfaces.

Keywords: Weyl semimetal; scanning tunneling microscopy; topological matter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.