Editors' ChoicePhysics

A partially protected surface state

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Science  24 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6293, pp. 1531-1532
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6293.1531-b

A signature feature of topological insulators is conductive surface states that are immune to certain types of disorder. This “topological protection” appears to be at work in compounds such as Bi2Se3, in which electrons interact with one another only weakly. Whether these protected surface states exist in SmB6, a material whose insulating bulk is caused by strong electronic correlations, is still a subject of debate. Park et al. used a tunneling technique to find states on the surface of SmB6 that appeared to have the same linear dispersion as those in Bi2Se3 but were only partially protected. The loss of protection was caused by the interaction of the surface states with the magnetic excitations of the bulk.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1606042113 (2016).

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