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Chin. Phys. B, 2013, Vol. 22(7): 077310    DOI: 10.1088/1674-1056/22/7/077310

Confined states and spin polarization on a topological insulator thin film modulated by an electric potential

Liu Yi-Man (刘一曼), Shao Huai-Hua (邵怀华), Zhou Xiao-Ying (周小英), Zhou Guang-Hui (周光辉)
Department of Physics and Key Laboratory for Low-Dimensional Structures and Quantum Manipulation (Ministry of Education), Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China
Abstract  We study the electronic structure and spin polarization for surface states of a three-dimensional topological insulator (TI) thin film modulated by an electrical potential well. By routinely solving the low energy surface Dirac equation for the system, we demonstrated that there exist confined surface states in which the electron density is nearly localized inside the well and is exponentially decayed outside in real space, and their subband dispersions are quasilinear with respect to the propagating wavevector. Interestingly, the top and bottom surface confined states with the same density distribution have opposite spin polarizations due to the hybridization between the two surfaces. Along with the mathematical analysis, we provide an intuitive, topological understanding of the effect.
Keywords:  topological insulator thin film      electronic structure      spin polarization      electric potential  
Received:  09 November 2012      Revised:  17 December 2012      Accepted manuscript online: 
PACS:  73.50.-h (Electronic transport phenomena in thin films)  
  72.80.Vp (Electronic transport in graphene)  
  73.23.-b (Electronic transport in mesoscopic systems)  
Fund: Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 11274108) and the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (Grant No. 20114306110008).
Corresponding Authors:  Zhou Guang-Hui     E-mail:

Cite this article: 

Liu Yi-Man (刘一曼), Shao Huai-Hua (邵怀华), Zhou Xiao-Ying (周小英), Zhou Guang-Hui (周光辉) Confined states and spin polarization on a topological insulator thin film modulated by an electric potential 2013 Chin. Phys. B 22 077310

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