By means of electrocatalytic tests, surface-science techniques and density functional theory, we unveil the physicochemical mechanisms ruling the electrocatalytic activity of recently discovered mitrofanovite (Pt3Te4) mineral. Mitrofanovite represents a very promising electrocatalyst candidate for energy-related applications, with a reduction of costs by 47% compared to pure Pt and superior robustness to CO poisoning. We show that Pt3Te4 is a weak topological metal with the Z2 invariant, exhibiting electrical conductivity (∼4 × 106 S/m) comparable with pure Pt. In hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), the electrode based on bulk Pt3Te4 shows a very small overpotential of 46 mV at 10 mA cm–2 and a Tafel slope of 36–49 mV dec–1 associated with the Volmer–Heyrovsky mechanism. The outstanding ambient stability of Pt3Te4 also provides durability of the electrode and long-term stability of its efficient catalytic performances.
The magnetic properties of the two-dimensional VI3 bilayer are the focus of our first-principles analysis, highlighting the role of t2g orbital splitting and carried out in comparison with the CrI3 prototypical case, where the splitting is negligible. In VI3 bilayers, the empty a1g state is found to play a crucial role in both stabilizing the insulating state and in determining the interlayer magnetic interaction. Indeed, an analysis based on maximally localized Wannier functions allows one to evaluate the interlayer exchange interactions in two different VI3 stackings (labeled AB and AB′), to interpret the results in terms of the virtual-hopping mechanism, and to highlight the strongest hopping channels underlying the magnetic interlayer coupling. Upon application of electric fields perpendicular to the slab, we find that the magnetic ground state in the AB′ stacking can be switched from antiferromagnetic to ferromagnetic, suggesting the VI3 bilayer as an appealing candidate for electric-field-driven miniaturized spintronic devices.
Dirac semimetals are classified into different phases based on the types of Dirac fermions. Tuning the transition among different types of Dirac fermions in one system remains a challenge. Recently, KMgBi was predicted to be located at a critical state in which various types of Dirac fermions can be induced owing to the existence of a flatband. Here, we carried out systematic studies on the electronic structure of KMgBi single crystals by combining angle-resolve photoemission spectroscopy and scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy. The flatband was clearly observed near the Fermi level. We also revealed a small bandgap of ∼20 meV between the flatband and the conduction band. These results demonstrate the critical states of KMgBi that transition among various types of Dirac fermions can be tuned in one system.
The growing demand for innovative means in biomedical, therapeutic and diagnostic sciences has led to the development of nanomedicine. In this context, naturally occurring tubular nanostructures composed of rolled sheets of alumino-silicates, known as halloysite nanotubes, have found wide application. Halloysite nanotubes indeed have surface properties that favor the selective loading of biomolecules. Here, we present the first, to our knowledge, structural study of DNA-decorated halloysite nanotubes, carried out with nanometric spatially-resolved infrared spectroscopy. Single nanotube absorption measurements indicate a partial covering of halloysite by DNA molecules, which show significant structural modifications taking place upon loading. The present study highlights the constraints for the use of nanostructured clays as DNA carriers and demonstrates the power of super-resolved infrared spectroscopy as an effective and versatile tool for the evaluation of immobilization processes in the context of drug delivery and gene transfer.
We report on the electronic properties of an artificial system obtained by the intercalation of equiatomic FeCo layers under graphene grownon Ir(111). Upon intercalation, the FeCo film grows epitaxially on Ir(111), resulting in a lattice-mismatched system. By performing densityfunctional theory calculations, we show that the intercalated FeCo layer leads to a pronounced corrugation of the graphene film. At the sametime, the FeCo intercalated layers induce a clear transition from a nearly undisturbed to a strongly hybridized graphenep-band, as measuredby angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. A comparison of experimental results with the computed band structure and the projecteddensity of states unveils a spin-selective hybridization between thepband of graphene and FeCo-3dstates. Our results demonstrate that thereduced dimensionality, as well as the hybridization within the FeCo layers, induces a narrowing and a clear splitting of Fe 3d-up and Fe3d-down-spin bands of the confined FeCo layers with respect to bulk Fe and Co.
In non-magnetic materials the combination of inversion symmetry breaking (ISB) and spin-orbit coupling (SOC) determines the spin polarization of the band structure. However, a local spin polarization can also arise in centrosymmetric crystals containing ISB subunits. This is namely the case for the nodal-line semimetal ZrSiTe where, by combining spin- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy with ab initio band structure calculations, we reveal a complex spin polarization. In the bulk, the valence and conduction bands exhibit opposite spin orientations in two spatially separated two-dimensional ZrTe sectors within the unit cell, yielding no net polarization. We also observe spin-polarized surface states that are well separated in energy and momentum from the bulk bands. A layer-by-layer analysis of the spin polarization allows us to unveil the complex evolution of the signal in the bulk states near the surface, thus bringing the intertwined nature of surface and bulk effects to the fore.
Trigonal tellurium, a small-gap semiconductor with pronounced magneto-electric and magneto-optical responses, is among the simplest realizations of a chiral crystal. We have studied by spin- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy its unconventional electronic structure and unique spin texture. We identify Kramers–Weyl, composite, and accordionlike Weyl fermions, so far only predicted by theory, and show that the spin polarization is parallel to the wave vector along the lines in k space connecting high-symmetry points. Our results clarify the symmetries that enforce such spin texture in a chiral crystal, thus bringing new insight in the formation of a spin vectorial field more complex than the previously proposed hedgehog configuration. Our findings thus pave the way to a classification scheme for these exotic spin textures and their search in chiral crystals.
Metal monochalcogenides (MX) have recently been rediscovered as two-dimensional materials with electronic properties highly dependent on the number of layers. Although some intriguing properties appear in the few-layer regime, the carrier mobility of MX compounds increases with the number of layers, motivating the interest in multilayered heterostructures or bulk materials. By means of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) measurements and density functional theory calculations, we compare the electronic band structure of bulk ε−GaSe and ε-InSe semiconductors. We focus our attention on the top valence band of the two compounds along main symmetry directions, discussing the effect of spin-orbit coupling and contributions from post-transition-metal (Ga or In) and Se atoms. Our results show that the top valence band at Γ point is dominated by Se pz states, while the main effect of Ga or In appears more deeply in binding energy, at the Brillouin zone corners, and in the conduction band. These findings explain also the experimental observation of a hole effective mass rather insensitive to the post-transition metal. Finally, by means of spin-resolved ARPES and surface band structure calculations we describe Rashba-Bychkov spin splitting of surface states in ε−InSe.
Ambient pressure operando soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy (soft-XAS) was applied to study the reactivity of hydroxylated SnO2 nanoparticles towards reducing gases. H2 was first used as a test case, showing that gas phase and surface states can be simultaneously probed: soft-XAS at the O K-edge gains sensitivity towards the gas phase, while at the Sn M4,5-edges tin surface states are explicitly probed. Results obtained by flowing hydrocarbons (CH4 and CH3CHCH2) unequivocally show that these gases react with surface hydroxyl groups to produce water without producing carbon oxides, and release electrons that localize on Sn to eventually form SnO. The partially reduced SnO2-x layer at the surface of SnO2 is readily reoxidised to SnO2 by treating the sample with O2 at mild temperatures (> 200 °C), revealing the nature of “electron sponge” of tin oxide. The experiments, combined with DFT calculations, allowed devising a mechanism for dissociative hydrocarbon adsorption on SnO2, involving direct reduction of Sn sites at the surface via cleavage of C-H bonds, and the formation of methoxy- and/or methyl-tin species at the surface.
Bulk PtSn4 has recently attracted the interest of the scientific community for the presence of electronic states exhibiting Dirac node arcs, enabling possible applications in nanoelectronics. Here, by means of surface-science experiments and density functional theory, we assess its suitability for catalysis by studying the chemical reactivity of the (0 1 0)-oriented PtSn4 surface toward CO, H2O, O2 molecules at room temperature and, moreover, its stability in air. We demonstrate that the catalytic activity of PtSn4 is determined by the composition of the outermost atomic layer. Specifically, we find that the surface termination for PtSn4 crystals cleaved in vacuum is an atomic Sn layer, which is totally free from any CO poisoning. In oxygen-rich environment, as well as in ambient atmosphere, the surface termination is a SnOx skin including SnO and SnO2 in comparable amount. However, valence-band states, including those forming Dirac node arcs, are only slightly affected by surface modifications. The astonishingly beneficial influence of surface oxidation on catalytic activity has been demonstrated by electrocatalytic tests evidencing a reduction of the Tafel slope, from 442 down to 86 mV dec−1, whose origin has been explained by our theoretical model. The use of surface-science tools to tune the chemical reactivity of PtSn4 opens the way toward its effective use in catalysis, especially for hydrogen evolution reaction and oxygen evolution reaction.
We investigate the temperature-dependent electronic structure of the van der Waals ferromagnet, CrGeTe3. Using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, we identify atomic- and orbital-specific band shifts upon cooling through TC. From these, together with x-ray absorption spectroscopy and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism measurements, we identify the states created by a covalent bond between the Te 5p and the Cr eg orbitals as the primary driver of the ferromagnetic ordering in this system, while it is the Cr t2g states that carry the majority of the spin moment. The t2g states furthermore exhibit a marked bandwidth increase and a remarkable lifetime enhancement upon entering the ordered phase, pointing to a delicate interplay between localized and itinerant states in this family of layered ferromagnets.
Chiral crystal YbNi3Ga9 is known as an intermediate valence compound in which a strong hybridization between the 4f orbitals and the conduction band is present. The Co-substitution to YbNi3Ga9 works as a hole doping that reduces the Kondo temperature and enhances the effective mass of itinerant charge carriers. Using angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, the complex band structure of Yb(Ni1−xCox)3Ga9 (x=0,0.1) is revealed. A Yb2+ 4f7/2 band and evidences of hybridization to valence bands are found near the Fermi level. Both YbNi3Ga9 and the Co-substituted compound exhibit double hexagonal Fermi surfaces centered at the Γ¯-point, surrounded by a large snowflake-like surface, and a triangular electron-like surface along the Γ¯M¯ direction. By changing the incident photon energy, the band dispersion along the c-axis and the barrel-shaped Fermi surface is observed.
Implementation of in-situ and operando experimental set-ups for bridging the pressure gap in characterization techniques based on monitoring of photoelectron emission has made significant achievements at several beamlines at Elettra synchrotron facility. These set-ups are now operational and have been successfully used to address unsolved issues exploring events occurring at solid–gas, solid–liquid and solid-solid interfaces of functional materials. The sections in the article communicate the research opportunities offered by the current set-ups at APE, BACH, ESCAmicroscopy and Nanospectroscopy beamlines and outline the next steps to overcome the present limits.
Band inversions are key to stabilising a variety of novel electronic states in solids, from topological surface states to the formation of symmetry-protected three-dimensional Dirac and Weyl points and nodal-line semimetals. Here, we create a band inversion not of bulk states, but rather between manifolds of surface states. We realise this by aliovalent substitution of Nb for Zr and Sb for S in the ZrSiS family of nonsymmorphic semimetals. Using angle-resolved photoemission and density-functional theory, we show how two pairs of surface states, known from ZrSiS, are driven to intersect each other near the Fermi level in NbGeSb, and to develop pronounced spin splittings. We demonstrate how mirror symmetry leads to protected crossing points in the resulting spin-orbital entangled surface band structure, thereby stabilising surface state analogues of three-dimensional Weyl points. More generally, our observations suggest new opportunities for engineering topologically and symmetry-protected states via band inversions of surface states.
We predict NiTe2 to be a type-II Dirac semimetal based on ab initio calculations and explore its bulk and spin-polarized surface states using spin- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (spin-ARPES). Our results show that, unlike PtTe2, PtSe2, and PdTe2, the Dirac node in NiTe2 is located in close vicinity to the Fermi energy. Additionally, NiTe2 also hosts a pair of band inversions below the Fermi level along the Γ−A high-symmetry direction, with one of them leading to a Dirac cone in the surface states. The bulk Dirac nodes and the ladder of band inversions in NiTe2 support unique topological surface states with chiral spin texture over a wide range of energies. Our work paves the way for the exploitation of the low-energy type-II Dirac fermions in NiTe2 in the fields of spintronics, infrared plasmonics, and ultrafast optoelectronics.
Palladium ditelluride (PdTe2) is a novel transition‐metal dichalcogenide exhibiting type‐II Dirac fermions and topological superconductivity. To assess its potential in technology, its chemical and thermal stability is investigated by means of surface‐science techniques, complemented by density functional theory, with successive implementation in electronics, specifically in a millimeter‐wave receiver. While water adsorption is energetically unfavorable at room temperature, due to a differential Gibbs free energy of ≈+12 kJ mol−1, the presence of Te vacancies makes PdTe2 surfaces unstable toward surface oxidation with the emergence of a TeO2 skin, whose thickness remains sub‐nanometric even after one year in air. Correspondingly, the measured photocurrent of PdTe2‐based optoelectronic devices shows negligible changes (below 4%) in a timescale of one month, thus excluding the need of encapsulation in the nanofabrication process. Remarkably, the responsivity of a PdTe2‐based millimeter‐wave receiver is 13 and 21 times higher than similar devices based on black phosphorus and graphene in the same operational conditions, respectively. It is also discovered that pristine PdTe2 is thermally stable in a temperature range extending even above 500 K, thus paving the way toward PdTe2‐based high‐temperature electronics. Finally, it is shown that the TeO2 skin, formed upon air exposure, can be removed by thermal reduction via heating in vacuum.
The layered van der Waals antiferromagnet MnBi2Te4 has been predicted to combine the band ordering of archetypical topological insulators such as Bi2Te3 with the magnetism of Mn, making this material a viable candidate for the realization of various magnetic topological states. We have systematically investigated the surface electronic structure of MnBi2Te4(0001) single crystals by use of spin- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy experiments. In line with theoretical predictions, the results reveal a surface state in the bulk band gap and they provide evidence for the influence of exchange interaction and spin-orbit coupling on the surface electronic structure.
Electronic correlation is believed to play an important role in exotic phenomena such as insulator-metal transition, colossal magnetoresistance, and high-temperature superconductivity in correlated electron systems. Recently, it has been shown that electronic correlation may also be responsible for the formation of unconventional plasmons. Herewith, using a combination of angle-dependent spectroscopic ellipsometry, angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy, and Hall measurements, all as a function of temperature supported by first-principles calculations, the existence of low-loss high-energy correlated plasmons accompanied by spectral weight transfer, a fingerprint of electronic correlation, in topological insulator (Bi0.8Sb0.2)2Se3 is revealed. Upon cooling, the density of free charge carriers in the surface states decreases whereas that in the bulk states increases, and the recently reported correlated plasmons are key to explaining this phenomenon. Our result shows the importance of electronic correlation in determining correlated plasmons and opens an alternative path in engineering plasmonic-based topologically insulating devices.
Whenever one is interested in making high temperature superconductor-based devices, the goodness of the sample surface in terms of structural and electrical properties is a strong issue. In fact, it is well known that the surface of high Tc superconducting samples is not bulk-representative, due to air contamination and to the possible presence of oxygen vacancies. In addition, the quality of the surface layer results to be crucial in surface sensitive measurements as in X-ray photoelectron and Angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. Recently, some studies have been dedicated to the realization of devices based on electron-doped cuprates, bilayers and nanowires, showing the actual possibility to realize good quality junctions by using these cuprates. In this work, we report on the fabrication of thin films of the electron-doped Nd2−xCexCuO4±δ compound and analyze the surface natural barrier of as-grown films by means of point contact spectroscopy measurements. Suitable treatments of samples in an ozone rich atmosphere have been developed in order to improve the surface quality of the films. Auger electron spectroscopy has been used to monitor the effectiveness of these treatments.
Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) nanocrystals (NCs) were produced via hot-injection from metal chloride precursors. A systematic investigation of the influence of synthesis conditions on composition, size and microstructure of CZTS NCs is presented. The results show that the solvent amount (oleylamine) is a key parameter in the synthesis of this quaternary chalcogenide: a low solvent content leads to CZTS NCs with a prominent kesterite phase with the desired composition for use as absorber material in thin film photovoltaic cells. It is also observed that lowering the injection temperature (250 °C) favours formation of CZTS NCs in the wurtzite phase. The effect of different high temperature thermal treatments on the grain growth is also shown: large crystals are obtained with annealing in inert atmosphere, whereas nanocrystalline films are obtained introducing sulphur vapour during the heat treatment. A correlation between the grain dimension and the carbonaceous residues in the final films is investigated. It is shown that the grain growth is hindered by organic residues, amount and nature of which depend on the heat treatment atmosphere. In fact, oleylamine is removed by a complex pyrolytic process, which is affected by the presence of sulphur vapour. The latter favours the stability of oleylamine residuals against its non-oxidative release.
The band inversions that generate the topologically non-trivial band gaps of topological insulators and the isolated Dirac touching points of three-dimensional Dirac semimetals generally arise from the crossings of electronic states derived from different orbital manifolds. Recently, the concept of single orbital-manifold band inversions occurring along high-symmetry lines has been demonstrated, stabilising multiple bulk and surface Dirac fermions. Here, we discuss the underlying ingredients necessary to achieve such phases, and discuss their existence within the family of transition metal dichalcogenides. We show how their three-dimensional band structures naturally produce only small k z projected band gaps, and demonstrate how these play a significant role in shaping the surface electronic structure of these materials. We demonstrate, through spin- and angle-resolved photoemission and density functional theory calculations, how the surface electronic structures of the group-X TMDs PtSe2 and PdTe2 are host to up to five distinct surface states, each with complex band dispersions and spin textures. Finally, we discuss how the origin of several recently-realised instances of topological phenomena in systems outside of the TMDs, including the iron-based superconductors, can be understood as a consequence of the same underlying mechanism driving k z -mediated band inversions in the TMDs.
Materials exhibiting nodal‐line fermions promise superb impact on technology for the prospect of dissipationless spintronic devices. Among nodal‐line semimetals, the ZrSiX (X = S, Se, Te) class is the most suitable candidate for such applications. However, the surface chemical reactivity of ZrSiS and ZrSiSe has not been explored yet. Here, by combining different surface‐science tools and density functional theory, it is demonstrated that the formation of ZrSiS and ZrSiSe surfaces by cleavage is accompanied by the washing up of the exotic topological bands, giving rise to the nodal line. Moreover, while the ZrSiS has a termination layer with both Zr and S atoms, in the ZrSiSe surface, reconstruction occurs with the appearance of Si surface atoms, which is particularly prone to oxidation. It is demonstrated that the chemical activity of ZrSiX compounds is mostly determined by the interaction of the Si layer with the ZrX sublayer. A suitable encapsulation for ZrSiX should not only preserve their surfaces from interaction with oxidative species, but also provide a saturation of dangling bonds with minimal distortion of the surface.
By means of angle‐resolved photoemission spectroscopy measurements, the electronic band structure of the three‐dimensional PbBi4Te7 and PbBi6Te10 topological insulators is compared. The measurements clearly reveal coexisting topological and multiple Rashba‐like split states close to the Fermi level for both systems. The observed topological states derive from different surface terminations, as confirmed by scanning tunneling microscopy measurements, and are well‐described by the density functional theory simulations. Both the topological and the Rashba‐like states reveal a prevalent two‐dimensional character barely affected by air exposure. X‐ray and valence band photoemission measurements suggest Rashba‐like states stem from the van der Waals gap expansion, consistently with density functional theory calculations.
We report on the influence of spin-orbit coupling (SOC) in Fe-based superconductors via application of circularly polarized spin and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. We combine this technique in representative members of both the Fe-pnictides (LiFeAs) and Fe-chalcogenides (FeSe) with tight-binding calculations to establish an ubiquitous modification of the electronic structure in these materials imbued by SOC. At low energy, the influence of SOC is found to be concentrated on the hole pockets, where the largest superconducting gaps are typically found. This effect varies substantively with the
kzdispersion, and in FeSe we find SOC to be comparable to the energy scale of orbital order. These results contest descriptions of superconductivity in these materials in terms of pure spin-singlet eigenstates, raising questions regarding the possible pairing mechanisms and role of SOC therein.
We present a study on the growth and characterization of high-quality single-layer MoS2 with a single orientation, i.e. without the presence of mirror domains. This single orientation of the MoS2 layer is established by means of x-ray photoelectron diffraction. The high quality is evidenced by combining scanning tunneling microscopy with x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements. Spin- and angle-resolved photoemission experiments performed on the sample revealed complete spin-polarization of the valence band states near the K and -K points of the Brillouin zone. These findings open up the possibility to exploit the spin and valley degrees of freedom for encoding and processing information in devices that are based on epitaxially grown materials.
The challenge of synthesizing graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) with atomic precision is currently being pursued along a one-way road, based on the synthesis of adequate molecular precursors that react in predefined ways through self-assembly processes. The synthetic options for GNR generation would multiply by adding a new direction to this readily successful approach, especially if both of them can be combined. We show here how GNR synthesis can be guided by an adequately nanotemplated substrate instead of by the traditionally designed reactants. The structural atomic precision, unachievable to date through top-down methods, is preserved by the self-assembly process. This new strategy’s proof-of-concept compares experiments using 4,4′′-dibromo-para-terphenyl as a molecular precursor on flat Au(111) and stepped Au(322) substrates. As opposed to the former, the periodic steps of the latter drive the selective synthesis of 6 atom-wide armchair GNRs, whose electronic properties have been further characterized in detail by scanning tunneling spectroscopy, angle resolved photoemission, and density functional theory calculations.
The success of black phosphorus in fast electronic and photonic devices is hindered by its rapid degradation in the presence of oxygen. Orthorhombic tin selenide is a representative of group IV-VI binary compounds that are robust and isoelectronic and share the same structure with black phosphorus. We measure the band structure of SnSe and find highly anisotropic valence bands that form several valleys having fast dispersion within the layers and negligible dispersion across. This is exactly the band structure desired for efficient thermoelectric generation where SnSe has shown great promise.
We study the low-energy surface electronic structure of the transition-metal dichalcogenide superconductor
PdTe2 by spin- and angle-resolved photoemission, scanning tunneling microscopy, and density-functional theory-based supercell calculations. Comparing PdTe2 with its sister compound PtSe2, we demonstrate how enhanced interlayer hopping in the Te-based material drives a band inversion within the antibonding p-orbital manifold well above the Fermi level. We show how this mediates spin-polarized topological surface states which form rich multivalley Fermi surfaces with complex spin textures. Scanning tunneling spectroscopy reveals type-II superconductivity at the surface, and moreover shows no evidence for an unconventional component of its superconducting order parameter, despite the presence of topological surface states.
The design and characterization of a HHG source conceived for Time and Angle Resolved PhotoElectron Spectroscopy (TR-ARPES) experiments are presented. The harmonics are selected through a grating monochromator with an innovative design able to provide XUV radiation for two distinct TR-ARPES setups.
PtTe2 is a novel transition-metal dichalcogenide hosting type-II Dirac fermions that displays application capabilities in optoelectronics and hydrogen evolution reaction. Here it is shown, by combining surface science experiments and density functional theory, that the pristine surface of PtTe2 is chemically inert toward the most common ambient gases (oxygen and water) and even in air. It is demonstrated that the creation of Te vacancies leads to the appearance of tellurium-oxide phases upon exposing defected PtTe2 surfaces to oxygen or ambient atmosphere, which is detrimental for the ambient stability of uncapped PtTe2-based devices. On the contrary, in PtTe2 surfaces modified by the joint presence of Te vacancies and substitutional carbon atoms, the stable adsorption of hydroxyl groups is observed, an essential step for water splitting and the water–gas shift reaction. These results thus pave the way toward the exploitation of this class of Dirac materials in catalysis.
Carbon nanomaterials exhibit extraordinary mechanical and electronic properties desirable for future technologies. Beyond the popular sp2‐scaffolds, there is growing interest in their graphdiyne‐related counterparts incorporating both sp2 and sp bonding in a regular scheme. Herein, we introduce carbonitrile‐functionalized graphdiyne nanowires, as a novel conjugated, one‐dimensional (1D) carbon nanomaterial systematically combining the virtues of covalent coupling and supramolecular concepts that are fabricated by on‐surface synthesis. Specifically, a terphenylene backbone is extended with reactive terminal alkyne and polar carbonitrile (CN) moieties providing the required functionalities. It is demonstrated that the CN functionalization enables highly selective alkyne homocoupling forming polymer strands and gives rise to mutual lateral attraction entailing room‐temperature stable double‐stranded assemblies. By exploiting the templating effect of the vicinal Ag(455) surface, 40 nm long semiconducting nanowires are obtained and the first experimental assessment of their electronic band structure is achieved by angle‐resolved photoemission spectroscopy indicating an effective mass below 0.1m0 for the top of the highest occupied band. Via molecular manipulation it is showcased that the novel oligomer exhibits extreme mechanical flexibility and opens unexplored ways of information encoding in clearly distinguishable CN‐phenyl trans–cis species. Thus, conformational data storage with density of 0.36 bit nm−2 and temperature stability beyond 150 K comes in reach.
The electric and nonvolatile control of the spin texture in semiconductors would represent a fundamental step toward novel electronic devices combining memory and computing functionalities. Recently, GeTe has been theoretically proposed as the father compound of a new class of materials, namely ferroelectric Rashba semiconductors. They display bulk bands with giant Rashba-like splitting due to the inversion symmetry breaking arising from the ferroelectric polarization, thus allowing for the ferroelectric control of the spin. Here, we provide the experimental demonstration of the correlation between ferroelectricity and spin texture. A surface-engineering strategy is used to set two opposite predefined uniform ferroelectric polarizations, inward and outward, as monitored by piezoresponse force microscopy. Spin and angular resolved photoemission experiments show that these GeTe(111) surfaces display opposite sense of circulation of spin in bulk Rashba bands. Furthermore, we demonstrate the crafting of nonvolatile ferroelectric patterns in GeTe films at the nanoscale by using the conductive tip of an atomic force microscope. Based on the intimate link between ferroelectric polarization and spin in GeTe, ferroelectric patterning paves the way to the investigation of devices with engineered spin configurations.
MoTe2 has recently been shown to realize in its low-temperature phase the type-II Weyl semimetal (WSM). We investigated by time- and angle- resolved photoelectron spectroscopy (tr-ARPES) the possible influence of the Weyl points on the electron dynamics above the Fermi level EF, by comparing the ultrafast response of MoTe2 in the trivial and topological phases. In the low-temperature WSM phase, we report an enhanced relaxation rate of electrons optically excited to the conduction band, which we interpret as a fingerprint of the local gap closure when Weyl points form. By contrast, we find that the electron dynamics of the related compound WTe2 is slower and temperature independent, consistent with a topologically trivial nature of this material. Our results shows that tr-ARPES is sensitive to the small modifications of the unoccupied band structure accompanying the structural and topological phase transition of MoTe2.
Transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are renowned for their rich and varied bulk properties, while their single-layer variants have become one of the most prominent examples of two-dimensional materials beyond graphene. Their disparate ground states largely depend on transition metal d-electron-derived electronic states, on which the vast majority of attention has been concentrated to date. Here, we focus on the chalcogen-derived states. From density-functional theory calculations together with spin- and angle-resolved photoemission, we find that these generically host a co-existence of type-I and type-II three-dimensional bulk Dirac fermions as well as ladders of topological surface states and surface resonances. We demonstrate how these naturally arise within a single p-orbital manifold as a general consequence of a trigonal crystal field, and as such can be expected across a large number of compounds. Already, we demonstrate their existence in six separate TMDs, opening routes to tune, and ultimately exploit, their topological physics.
Extremely large magnetoresistance (XMR), observed in transition-metal dichalcogenides,
WTe2, has attracted recently a great deal of research interest as it shows no sign of saturation up to a magnetic field as high as 60 T, in addition to the presence of type-II Weyl fermions. Currently, there is a great deal of discussion on the role of band structure changes in the temperature-dependent XMR in this compound. In this contribution, we study the band structure of WTe2 using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and first-principles calculations to demonstrate that the temperature-dependent band structure has no substantial effect on the temperature-dependent XMR, as our measurements do not show band structure changes upon increasing the sample temperature between 20 and 130 K. We further observe an electronlike surface state, dispersing in such a way that it connects the top of bulk holelike band to the bottom of bulk electronlike band. Interestingly, similarly to bulk states, the surface state is also mostly intact with the sample temperature. Our results provide valuable information in shaping the mechanism of temperature-dependent XMR in WTe2.
The knowledge of the picosecond dynamics of the energy level alignment between donor and acceptor materials in organic photovoltaic devices under working conditions is a challenge for fundamental material research. We measured by means of time-resolved Resonant X-ray Photoemission Spectroscopy (RPES) the energy level alignment in ZnPc/C60 films. We employed 800 nm femtosecond laser pulses to pump the system simulating sunlight excitation and X-rays from the synchrotron as a probe. We measured changes in the valence bands due to pump induced modifications of the interface dipole. Our measurements prove the feasibility of time-resolved RPES with high repetition rate sources.
Transition-metal dichalcogenides (WTe2 and MoTe2) have recently drawn much attention, because of the
nonsaturating extremely large magnetoresistance (XMR) observed in these compounds in addition to the
predictions of likely type-II Weyl semimetals. Contrary to the topological insulators or Dirac semimetals where XMR is linearly dependent on the field, in WTe2 and MoTe2 the XMR is nonlinearly dependent on the field, suggesting an entirely different mechanism. Electron-hole compensation has been proposed as a mechanism of this nonsaturating XMR in WTe2, while it is yet to be clear in the case of MoTe2 which has an identical crystal structure of WTe2 at low temperatures. In this Rapid Communication, we report low-energy electronic structure and Fermi surface topology of MoTe2 using angle-resolved photoemission spectrometry (ARPES) technique and first-principles calculations, and compare them with that of WTe2 to understand the mechanism of XMR. Our measurements demonstrate that MoTe2 is an uncompensated semimetal, contrary to WTe2 in which compensated electron-hole pockets have been identified, ruling out the applicability of charge compensation theory for the nonsaturating XMR in MoTe2. In this context, we also discuss the applicability of other existing conjectures on the XMR of these compounds.
The prediction of Weyl fermions in the low-temperature noncentrosymmetric
1T′ phase of MoTe2 still awaits clear experimental confirmation. Here, we report angle-resolved photoemission (ARPES) data and ab initio calculations that reveal a surface state arc dispersing between the valence and the conduction band, as expected for a Weyl semimetal. However, we find that the arc survives in the high-temperature centrosymmetric 1T'' phase. Therefore, a surface Fermi arc is not an unambiguous fingerprint of a topologically nontrivial phase. We have also investigated the surface state spin texture of the
1T′ phase by spin-resolved ARPES, and identified additional topologically trivial spin-split states within the projected band gap at higher binding energies.
Topological Weyl semimetal (TWS), a new state of quantum matter, has sparked enormous research interest recently. Possessing unique Weyl fermions in the bulk and Fermi arcs on the surface, TWSs offer a rare platform for realizing many exotic physical phenomena. TWSs can be classified into type-I that respect Lorentz symmetry and type-II that do not. Here, we directly visualize the electronic structure of MoTe2, a recently proposed type-II TWS. Using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES), we unravel the unique surface Fermi arcs, in good agreement with our ab initio calculations that have nontrivial topological nature. Our work not only leads to new understandings of the unusual properties discovered in this family of compounds, but also allows for the further exploration of exotic properties and practical applications of type-II TWSs, as well as the interplay between superconductivity (MoTe2 was discovered to be superconducting recently) and their topological order.
This thesis completes my work as doctoral student of the Scuola di Dottorato in Fisica, Astrofisica e Fisica Applicata at the Università degli Studi di Milano that has been carried out, starting in November 4236, mostly at the Laboratorio TASC of IOM-CNR3 in the premises of the Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste and FERMI@Elettra infrastructures4, in the framework of the NFFA and APE-beamline facilites5, as well as by accessing international large scale infrastructures and laboratories. The activity has addressed the development of experimental methodologies and novel instrumentation oriented to the study of the dynamical properties of highly correlated materials after high energy excitation. The science programme has been carried out by exploiting ultrafast femtosecond probes from the optical regime (Ti-Sa lasers, fibre laser oscillators) to the extreme UV-soft X rays at FERMI, to the picosecond hard X-rays from the SPring-: and Diamond synchrotron radiation source. The sample synthesis of correlated oxides and its characterization has been performed within the NFFA facility and APE-group collaboration in Trieste as well as the design and construction of the all new laser High Harmonic Generation beam line NFFA-SPRINT and its end station for time resolved vectorial electron spin polarimetry.
PtBi2 with a layered hexagonal crystal structure was recently reported to exhibit an unconventional large linear magnetoresistance, while the mechanism involved is still elusive. Using high-resolution angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, we present a systematic study on its bulk and surface electronic structure. Through careful comparison with first principle calculations, our experiment distinguishes the low-lying bulk bands from entangled surface states, allowing the estimation of the real composition of samples. We find significant electron doping in PtBi2, implying a substantial Bi-deficiency-induced disorder therein. Intriguingly, we discover a Dirac-cone-like surface state on the boundary of the Brillouin zone, which is identified as an accidental Dirac band without topological protection. Our findings exclude linear band dispersion in the quantum limit as the cause of the unconventional large linear magnetoresistance but give support to the classical disorder model from the perspective of the electronic structure.
The complex electronic properties of
ZrTe5 have recently stimulated in-depth investigations that assigned this material to either a topological insulator or a 3D Dirac semimetal phase. Here we report a comprehensive experimental and theoretical study of both electronic and structural properties of
ZrTe5, revealing that the bulk material is a strong topological insulator (STI). By means of angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, we identify at the top of the valence band both a surface and a bulk state. The dispersion of these bands is well captured by ab initio calculations for the STI case, for the specific interlayer distance measured in our x-ray diffraction study. Furthermore, these findings are supported by scanning tunneling spectroscopy revealing the metallic character of the sample surface, thus confirming the strong topological nature of ZrTe5.
The electronic structure of the chiral helimagnet
Cr1/3NbS2 has been studied with core level and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES). Intercalated Cr atoms are found to be effective in donating electrons to the NbS2 layers but also cause significant modifications of the electronic structure of the host NbS2 material. In particular, the data provide evidence that a description of the electronic structure of Cr1/3NbS2 on the basis of a simple rigid band picture is untenable. The data also reveal substantial inconsistencies with the predictions of standard density functional theory. The relevance of these results to the attainment of a correct description of the electronic structure of chiral helimagnets, magnetic thin films/multilayers, and transition metal dichalcogenides intercalated with 3d magnetic elements is discussed.
Topological insulators are a promising class of materials for applications in the field of spintronics. New perspectives in this field can arise from interfacing metal–organic molecules with the topological insulator spin-momentum locked surface states, which can be perturbed enhancing or suppressing spintronics-relevant properties such as spin coherence. Here we show results from an angle-resolved photemission spectroscopy (ARPES) and scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) study of the prototypical cobalt phthalocyanine (CoPc)/Bi2Se3 interface. We demonstrate that that the hybrid interface can act on the topological protection of the surface and bury the Dirac cone below the first quintuple layer.
This thesis reports on the construction and commissioning tests of the novel experimental set-up needed for a long term research project, named ULTRASPIN, aiming at establishing time resolved spin-resolved photoemission measurements with ultra-short (10−14 s) photon pulses from Free Electron Laser beamlines or from table-top UV/Soft-X beamlines.
The ULTRASPIN project started in the summer 2013, building on competences and instrumentation in part available from the APE-beamline group of IOM-CNR at Elettra, and with the partial support of an European contract (EXSTASY-EXperimental STation for the Analysis of the Spin Dynamics, Grant agreement N.PIIF-GA-2012-326641) and related fellowship of a world-expert of Mott scattering.
I have been involved from the beginning in the final design, in the construction and commissioning of a novel stray-field free UHV apparatus for preparing and hosting atomically clean surfaces and for measuring the spin-polarization of the photo-emitted electrons with “single pulse” sensitivity down to the 10−14 s time scale, as well as in the standard high frequency spectroscopy mode. In the commissioning phase I have participated to test experiments on ULTRASPIN as well as to relevant experiments conducted in other apparatuses.