Scanning tunneling microscopy research of Bi(110) thin films grown on NbSe2
Liu Jian-Yu1, Sun Hao-Hua1, Guan Dan-Dan1,2, Li Yao-Yi1,2, Wang Shi-Yong1,2, Liu Can-Hua1,2, Zheng Hao1,2, Jia Jin-Feng1,2
1. Key Laboratory of Artificial Structures and Quantum Control, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China;2. Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, Nanjing 210093, China>
Due to the novel physical properties induced by the strong spin orbit coupling and band inversions in the energy band structure, two-dimensional topological insulator has become a hot research point in the field of condensed matter physics and material science in recent years. Particularly, two-dimensional topological insulator may host exotic Majorana fermionic excitations in its edge state if superconductivity is introduced. Bi thin film with (111) orientation proves to be a two-dimensional topological insulator both in theory and in experiment. However, the topological nature of Bi thin film with (110) orientation has not yet been confirmed. In this study, high quality Bi(110) thin films are successfully prepared on superconductor NbSe2 surfaces, by the molecular beam epitaxial technology at ambient temperature and a low deposition rate (~24℃,~3 min/bilayer). The morphologies and electronic properties of the samples are studied by using scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy. The experimental results reveal that the growth mode changes from bilayer (BL) in BL mode to monolayer (ML) in ML mode. Such transition takes place at a critical height of about 4 BLs. The mechanism of the growth mode transition is believed to be induced by the drastic variation of the surface energies of the thin films with different thickness values. Due to the large coverage of Bi(110) film on the NbSe2 substrate, it is almost impossible to find the exposed areas of NbSe2 substrate surface in practice. Especially on the sample with a large number of layers of Bi thin film, it is hard to directly determine the number of layers for each film. Hence, the critical thickness could be only estimated by controlling the deposition time and growth rate combining with the measurements of stage height of the film. The nearly identical local density of states wherever measured in the interior of a terrace or at the step edges can be discerned from the dI/dV spectra, which is thus hard to corroborate with non-trivial topology in either BL or ML thick Bi(110) film. The superconductivity induced by proximity effect from the superconducting substrate NbSe2 is also observed on the thin films. Through Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer type data fitting, the superconducting gap on the Bi thin film is estimated at about 0.5 meV. In addition, the quantum well state, which is often observed in thin films, is also revealed from the Bi(110) thin films, whose characteristic is equal energy spacing between peaks in dI/dV spectra. Noticeably, the spectral shapes of BL and ML are similar, and the local density of states from adjacent film layers displays an approximate πup phase shift.
Project supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant Nos. 2016YFA0301003, 2016YFA0300403), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 11521404, 11634009, U1632102, 11504230, 11674222, 11574202, 11674226, 11574201, U1632272, 11655002), and the Shanghai Committee of Science and Technology, China (Grant No. 16DZ2260200).
Liu Jian-Yu, Sun Hao-Hua, Guan Dan-Dan, Li Yao-Yi, Wang Shi-Yong, Liu Can-Hua, Zheng Hao, Jia Jin-Feng. Scanning tunneling microscopy research of Bi(110) thin films grown on NbSe2[J]. Acta Phys. Sin., 2018, 67(17): 170701.