Three-dimensional topological insulators (TIs) are characterized by their nontrivial surface states, in which electrons have their spin locked at a right angle to their momentum under the protection of time-reversal symmetry. The topologically ordered phase in TIs does not break any symmetry. The interplay between topological order and symmetry breaking, such as that observed in superconductivity, can lead to new quantum phenomena and devices. We fabricated a superconducting TI/superconductor heterostructure by growing dibismuth triselenide (Bi2Se3) thin films on superconductor niobium diselenide substrate. Using scanning tunneling microscopy and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, we observed the superconducting gap at the Bi 2Se3 surface in the regime of Bi2Se3 film thickness where topological surface states form. This observation lays the groundwork for experimentally realizing Majorana fermions in condensed matter physics.
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