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Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Oct 7;107(15):156803. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

Orbital-angular-momentum based origin of Rashba-type surface band splitting.

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Department of Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA.


We propose that the existence of local orbital angular momentum (OAM) on the surfaces of high-Z materials plays a crucial role in the formation of Rashba-type surface band splitting. Local OAM state in a Bloch wave function produces an asymmetric charge distribution (electric dipole). The surface-normal electric field then aligns the electric dipole and results in chiral OAM states and the relevant Rashba-type splitting. Therefore, the band splitting originates from electric dipole interaction, not from the relativistic Zeeman splitting as proposed in the original Rashba picture. The characteristic spin chiral structure of Rashba states is formed through the spin-orbit coupling and thus is a secondary effect to the chiral OAM. Results from first-principles calculations on a single Bi layer under an external electric field verify the key predictions of the new model.

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