Observation of Dirac plasmons in a topological insulator.

1] CNR-SPIN, Corso F. Perrone, 16152 Genoa, Italy [2] Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma 'La Sapienza', Piazzale A. Moro 2, I-00185 Rome, Italy.
Nature Nanotechnology (Impact Factor: 31.17). 07/2013; DOI:10.1038/nnano.2013.134
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Plasmons are quantized collective oscillations of electrons and have been observed in metals and doped semiconductors. The plasmons of ordinary, massive electrons have been the basic ingredients of research in plasmonics and in optical metamaterials for a long time. However, plasmons of massless Dirac electrons have only recently been observed in graphene, a purely two-dimensional electron system. Their properties are promising for novel tunable plasmonic metamaterials in the terahertz and mid-infrared frequency range. Dirac fermions also occur in the two-dimensional electron gas that forms at the surface of topological insulators as a result of the strong spin-orbit interaction existing in the insulating bulk phase. One may therefore look for their collective excitations using infrared spectroscopy. Here we report the first experimental evidence of plasmonic excitations in a topological insulator (Bi2Se3). The material was prepared in thin micro-ribbon arrays of different widths W and periods 2W to select suitable values of the plasmon wavevector k. The linewidth of the plasmon was found to remain nearly constant at temperatures between 6 K and 300 K, as expected when exciting topological carriers. Moreover, by changing W and measuring the plasmon frequency in the terahertz range versus k we show, without using any fitting parameter, that the dispersion curve agrees quantitatively with that predicted for Dirac plasmons.

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    ABSTRACT: Plasmons have been excited on the surface states of the topological insulator Bi2Se3.
    Nature Nanotechnology 08/2013; 8(8):541-2. · 31.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of metamaterials, data processing circuits and sensors for the visible and UV parts of the spectrum is hampered by the lack of low-loss media supporting plasmonic excitations and drives the intense search for plasmonic materials beyond noble metals. By studying plasmonic nanostructures fabricated on the surface of topological insulator $\mbox{Bi}_{1.5}\mbox{Sb}_{0.5}\mbox{Te}_{1.8}\mbox{Se}_{1.2}$ we found that it is orders of magnitude better plasmonic material than gold and silver in the blue-UV range. Metamaterial fabricated from $\mbox{Bi}_{1.5}\mbox{Sb}_{0.5}\mbox{Te}_{1.8}\mbox{Se}_{1.2}$ show plasmonic resonances from 350 nm to 550 nm while surface gratings exhibit cathodoluminescent peaks from 230 nm to 1050 nm. The negative permittivity underpinning plasmonic response is attributed to the combination of bulk interband transitions and surface contribution of the topologically protected states. The importance of our result is in the identification of new mechanisms of negative permittivity in semiconductors where visible-range plasmonics can be directly integrated with electronics.


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Jul 25, 2013