A topological insulator 1-9 is a new state of quantum matter that is characterized by a finite energy gap in the bulk and gapless modes flowing along the boundaries that are robust against disorder scattering. The topological protection of the surface state could be useful for both low-power electronics 10 and error-tolerant quantum computing 11,12 . For a thin slab of three-dimensional topological insulator, the boundary modes from the opposite surfaces may be coupled by quantum tunnelling, so that a small, thickness-dependent gap is opened up 13,15 . Here we report such results from angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy on Bi 2 Se 3 films of various thicknesses grown by molecular beam epitaxy. The energy gap opening is clearly seen when the thickness is below six quintuple layers. The gapped surface states also exhibit sizeable Rashba-type spin-orbit splitting because of the substrate-induced potential difference between the two surfaces. The tunable gap and the spin-orbit coupling make these topological thin films ideal for electronic and spintronic device applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)