Signatures of exciton condensation in a transition metal dichalcogenide

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Science  08 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6368, pp. 1314-1317
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam6432

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Probing an excitonic condensate

Excitons—bound states of electrons and holes in solids—are expected to form a Bose condensate at sufficiently low temperatures. Excitonic condensation has been studied in systems such as quantum Hall bilayers where physical separation between electrons and holes enables a longer lifetime for their bound states. Kogar et al. observed excitons condensing in the three-dimensional semimetal 1T-TiSe2. In such systems, distinguishing exciton condensation from other types of order is tricky. To do so, the authors used momentum-resolved electron energy-loss spectroscopy, a technique developed to probe electronic collective excitations. The energy needed to excite an electronic mode became negligible at a finite momentum, signifying the formation of a condensate.

Science, this issue p. 1314


Bose condensation has shaped our understanding of macroscopic quantum phenomena, having been realized in superconductors, atomic gases, and liquid helium. Excitons are bosons that have been predicted to condense into either a superfluid or an insulating electronic crystal. Using the recently developed technique of momentum‐resolved electron energy‐loss spectroscopy (M-EELS), we studied electronic collective modes in the transition metal dichalcogenide semimetal 1T‐TiSe2. Near the phase-transition temperature (190 kelvin), the energy of the electronic mode fell to zero at nonzero momentum, indicating dynamical slowing of plasma fluctuations and crystallization of the valence electrons into an exciton condensate. Our study provides compelling evidence for exciton condensation in a three-dimensional solid and establishes M-EELS as a versatile technique sensitive to valence band excitations in quantum materials.

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