Recent Publications

Real-space obstruction in quantum spin Hall insulators

The recently introduced classification of two-dimensional insulators in terms of topological crystalline invariants has been applied so far to “obstructed” atomic insulators characterized by a mismatch between the centers of the electronic Wannier functions and the ionic positions. We extend this notion to quantum spin Hall insulators in which the ground state cannot be described in terms of time-reversal symmetric localized Wannier functions. A system equivalent to graphene in all its relevant electronic and topological properties except for a real-space obstruction is identified and studied via symmetry analysis as well as with density functional theory. The low-energy model comprises a local spin-orbit coupling and a nonlocal symmetry breaking potential, which turn out to be the essential ingredients for an obstructed quantum spin Hall insulator. [...]

Phys. Rev. B  106, 195143 (2022)

Observation of room temperature excitons in an atomically thin topological insulator

Optical spectroscopy of ultimately thin materials has significantly enhanced our understanding of collective excitations in low-dimensional semiconductors. This is particularly reflected by the rich physics of excitons in atomically thin crystals which uniquely arises from the interplay of strong Coulomb correlation, spin-orbit coupling (SOC), and lattice geometry. Here we extend the field by reporting the observation of room temperature excitons in a material of non-trivial global topology. We study the fundamental optical excitation spectrum of a single layer of bismuth atoms epitaxially grown on a SiC substrate (hereafter bismuthene or Bi/SiC) which has been established as a large-gap, two-dimensional (2D) quantum spin Hall (QSH) insulator. [...]

Nat. Commun. 13, 6313 (2022)

Indium epitaxy on SiC(0001): a roadmap to large scale growth of the quantum spin Hall insulator indenene

Indenene─the triangular single layer phase of indium─is a novel large gap (∼120 meV) quantum spin Hall (QSH) insulator that stabilizes on SiC(0001) substrates. Thanks to excellent lattice matching, indenene nucleates in monodomains that are promising for devices if synthesized in the micrometer range. Here, we establish a simple, but robust and scalable indenene fabrication protocol based on an initial Stranski–Krastanov growth stage followed by a short anneal whose temperature selects between a three, two, or one monolayer In coverage. Their specific structural and electronic properties produce distinct fingerprints in experimental surface characterization by electron microscopy, diffraction, and spectroscopy, thus providing an efficient metric for the synthesis of large scale high-quality indenene on SiC.

J. Phys. Chem. C  126, 16289 (2022)

Research Groups

Nanophysics at surfaces

The research activities of our group are concerned with the physics of low-dimensional systems, where the electron states resulting from dimensional confinement lead to unusual conduction properties and to phase transitions as a function of temperature.

Neutron and resonant X-ray spectroscopy

In our group we investigate complex, functional materials such as transition metal oxides, which are used in the emerging field of correlated nanoelectronics. Unlike with conventional semiconductors, exotic superconducting, orbital and magnetic states can be realized at the interfaces in layered structures comprising such materials.