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Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Apr 26;110(17):176802. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Topologically protected quantum transport in locally exfoliated bismuth at room temperature.

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1
Departamento de Física Aplicada, Universidad de Alicante, San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante 03690, Spain.

Abstract

We report electrical conductance measurements of Bi nanocontacts created by repeated tip-surface indentation using a scanning tunneling microscope at temperatures of 4 and 300 K. As a function of the elongation of the nanocontact, we measure robust, tens of nanometers long plateaus of conductance G0 = 2e2/h at room temperature. This observation can be accounted for by the mechanical exfoliation of a Bi(111) bilayer, a predicted quantum spin Hall (QSH) insulator, in the retracing process following a tip-surface contact. The formation of the bilayer is further supported by the additional observation of conductance steps below G0 before breakup at both temperatures. Our finding provides the first experimental evidence of the possibility of mechanical exfoliation of Bi bilayers, the existence of the QSH phase in a two-dimensional crystal, and, most importantly, the observation of the QSH phase at room temperature.

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