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Chin. Phys. B, 2021, Vol. 30(9): 096804    DOI: 10.1088/1674-1056/ac11e8

Phase transition-induced superstructures of β-Sn films with atomic-scale thickness

Le Lei(雷乐), Feiyue Cao(曹飞跃), Shuya Xing(邢淑雅), Haoyu Dong(董皓宇), Jianfeng Guo(郭剑锋), Shangzhi Gu(顾尚志), Yanyan Geng(耿燕燕), Shuo Mi(米烁), Hanxiang Wu(吴翰翔), Fei Pang(庞斐), Rui Xu(许瑞), Wei Ji(季威), and Zhihai Cheng(程志海)
Beijing Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Functional Materials&Micro-nano Devices, Department of Physics, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
Abstract  The ultrathin β-Sn(001) films have attracted tremendous attention owing to its topological superconductivity (TSC), which hosts Majorana bound state (MBSs) for quantum computation. Recently, β-Sn(001) thin films have been successfully fabricated via phase transition engineering. However, the understanding of structural phase transition of β-Sn(001) thin films is still elusive. Here, we report the direct growth of ultrathin β-Sn(001) films epitaxially on the highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) substrate and the characterization of intricate structural-transition-induced superstructures. The morphology was obtained by using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), indicating a structure-related bilayer-by-bilayer growth mode. The ultrathin β-Sn film was made of multiple domains with various superstructures. Both high-symmetric and distorted superstructures were observed in the atomic-resolution STM images of these domains. The formation mechanism of these superstructures was further discussed based on the structural phase transition of β to α-Sn at the atomic-scale thickness. Our work not only brings a deep understanding of the structural phase transition of Sn film at the two-dimensional limit, but also paves a way to investigate their structure-sensitive topological properties.
Keywords:  epitaxial growth      β-Sn films      bilayer-by-bilayer      superstructures      structural transition      scanning tunneling microscopy      surface energy  
Received:  13 May 2021      Revised:  09 June 2021      Accepted manuscript online:  07 July 2021
PACS:  68.37.-d (Microscopy of surfaces, interfaces, and thin films)  
  68.55.-a (Thin film structure and morphology)  
  68.37.Ef (Scanning tunneling microscopy (including chemistry induced with STM))  
  68.65.Cd (Superlattices)  
Fund: Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 61674045, 61911540074, and 21622304), the Fund from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (Grant No. 2016YFA0200700), the Strategic Priority Research Program and Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences (Chinese Academy of Sciences) (Grant Nos. XDB30000000 and QYZDB-SSW-SYS031). Zhihai Cheng was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities and the Research Funds of Renmin University of China (Grant No. 21XNLG27).
Corresponding Authors:  Zhihai Cheng     E-mail:

Cite this article: 

Le Lei(雷乐), Feiyue Cao(曹飞跃), Shuya Xing(邢淑雅), Haoyu Dong(董皓宇), Jianfeng Guo(郭剑锋), Shangzhi Gu(顾尚志), Yanyan Geng(耿燕燕), Shuo Mi(米烁), Hanxiang Wu(吴翰翔), Fei Pang(庞斐), Rui Xu(许瑞), Wei Ji(季威), and Zhihai Cheng(程志海) Phase transition-induced superstructures of β-Sn films with atomic-scale thickness 2021 Chin. Phys. B 30 096804

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