Topological Edge states

Introduction: Topological Insulator has drawn a lot of attention recently in condensed matter physics. It describes the phase of matter in a different way, and gives us a new perspective toward materials. What is Topological Insulator(TI)? It is a material with bulk bandgap. However, at the surface of TI, it has edge states that propagate like a metal. We can imagine this like plastic tube wrapped with a aluminum foil around the tube. And it is proposed that it might be a potential candidate as fault tolerant quantum computation because the edge states are protected by time reversal symmetry. Protected state means that it is robust against impurity or imperfections in the crystal. The first 3D TI was observed in semiconducting alloy \(Bi_{1-x}Sb_x\) with angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy(ARPES) (Hsieh 2008). The reason to choose Bisumth is due to its strong spin orbit interaction which is essential to see TI edge states. But the \(Bi_{1-x}Sb_x\) surface states are complicated, so it invokes other materials such as \(Bi_2Se_3\) (Xia 2009).

Integer Quantum Hall Effect: To discuss TI surface edge states, we begin with the very similar cousin of TI edge states, which is quantum hall effect(QHE), or more accurately integer quantum hall effect. First observation of quantum hall effect was conducted in 1980 in MOSFET system in the low temperature and high magnetic field environment(Klitzing 1980). The astonishing experiment result is that the conductivity(or resistivity) of the system has plateau with increasing magnetic field as following.

Quantum Hall Effect dependence on magnetic field.(Avron 2003)