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; 8(8). 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.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: With strong spin-orbit coupling, topological insulators have an insulating bulk state, characterized by a band gap, and a conducting surface state, characterized by a Dirac cone. Plasmons in topological insulators show high frequency-tunability in the mid-infrared and terahertz spectral regions with transverse spin oscillations, also called "spin-plasmons". This paper presents a discussion and review of the developments in this field from the fundamental theory of plasmons in bulk, thin-film, and surface-magnetized topological insulators to the techniques of plasmon excitation and future applications.
    04/2014; 4(13):1. DOI:10.5772/58558
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Under certain conditions, Hg(Cd)Te quantum wells (QWs) are known to realize a time-reversal symmetric, two-dimensional topological insulator phase. Its low-energy excitations are well-described by the phenomenological Bernevig-Hughes-Zhang (BHZ) model that interpolates between Schr\"odinger and Dirac fermion physics. We study the polarization function of this model in random phase approximation (RPA) in the intrinsic limit and at finite doping. While the polarization properties in RPA of Dirac and Schr\"odinger particles are two comprehensively studied problems, our analysis of the BHZ model bridges the gap between these two limits, shedding light on systems with intermediate properties. We gain insight into the screening properties of the system and on its characteristic plasma oscillations. Interestingly, we discover two different kinds of plasmons that are related to the presence of intra- and interband excitations. Observable signatures of these plasmons are carefully analyzed in a variety of distinct parameter regimes, including the experimentally relevant ones for Hg(Cd)Te QWs. We conclude that the discovered plasmons are observable by Raman or electron loss spectroscopy.
    Physical Review B 06/2014; 90(11). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevB.90.115425 · 3.66 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The development of metamaterials, data processing circuits and sensors for the visible and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum is hampered by the lack of low-loss media supporting plasmonic excitations. This has driven the intense search for plasmonic materials beyond noble metals. Here we show that the semiconductor Bi1.5Sb0.5Te1.8Se1.2, also known as a topological insulator, is also a good plasmonic material in the blue-ultraviolet range, in addition to the already-investigated terahertz frequency range. Metamaterials fabricated from Bi1.5Sb0.5Te1.8Se1.2 show plasmonic resonances from 350 to 550 nm, while surface gratings exhibit cathodoluminescent peaks from 230 to 1,050 nm. The observed plasmonic response is attributed to the combination of bulk charge carriers from interband transitions and surface charge carriers of the topological insulator. 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.
    Nature Communications 01/2014; 5:5139. DOI:10.1038/ncomms6139 · 10.74 Impact Factor


Available from
Jun 1, 2014