Structural, morphological and chemical properties of metal/topological insulator interfaces : dissertationKatja Ferfolja
, 2021, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: Topological insulators (TIs) represent a new state of matter that possess a different band structure than regular insulators or conductors. They are characterized with a band gap in the bulk and conductive topological states on the surface, which are spin polarized and robust toward contamination or deformation of the surface. Since the intriguing properties of the TIs are localized at the surface, it is important to obtain knowledge of the possible phenomena happening at the interface between TIs and other materials. This is especially true in the case of metals, due to the fact that such interfaces will be present in the majority of foreseen TI applications.
The presented study combines microscopy and spectroscopy techniques for characterization of morphology, stability and chemical interaction at the interface between TI and metals deposited by means of physical vapor deposition. Our research is based on the interface of Bi2Se3 topological insulator with Ag, Ti and Pt – metals that can be encountered in devices or applications predicted to utilize the special properties of topological insulators.
STM and SEM imaging of Ag/Bi2Se3 interface showed that Ag atoms arrange on the surface in the form of islands, whereas significantly bigger agglomerates are found at the surface steps. The interface was found to be unstable in time and resulted in the absorption of the metal into the crystal at room temperature. Evidences of a chemical reaction at the Ag/Bi2Se3 interface are presented, showing that new phases (Ag2Se, AgBiSe2 and metallic Bi) are formed.
Deposition of Ti on Bi2Se3 resulted in different morphologies depending on the film thickness. At a very low coverage (<1 Å) islands are formed. However, the islands growth is hindered before the completion of a full layer due to the occurrence of a chemical reaction. No surface features could be detected by SEM for Ti coverage up to 20 nm. In contrary, when Ti thickness reached 40 nm, compressive stress triggered buckling of the deposited film. XPS analysis revealed that a redox solid-state reaction occurs at the Ti/Bi2Se3 interface at room temperature forming titanium selenides and metallic Bi. The reaction has significant kinetics even at cryogenic temperature of 130 K.
Pt forms a homogenous film over the whole substrate surface, which is stable in time at room temperature. Although the interface of Pt with Bi2Se3 was found to be
less reactive compared to Ag and Ti, an interfacial phase formed upon annealing to ∼90 °C was detected by TEM cross section experiment.
A model for prediction of interfacial reactions between a metal and Bi2Se3 based on the standard reduction potential of the metals and Gibbs free energy for a model reaction is presented. Based on these two values the reaction can be expected to result in the formation of binary and/or ternary selenides and Bi.
Presented work shows on the importance of metal/topological insulator interfaces characterization taking into account the possibility of a chemical reaction with all of its consequences. Results should be considered for future theoretical and applicative studies involving such interfaces as well as for the possible engineering of 2D TI heterostructures.
Keywords: topological insulators, topological surface states, Bi2Se3, thin films, Ag, Ti, Pt, morphology, interfaces, solid-state reaction, metal selenides, reactivity, stability, electron microscopy, dissertations
Published in RUNG: 09.06.2021; Views: 2735; Downloads: 167
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