Spatial charge inhomogeneity and defect states in topological Dirac semimetal thin films of Na3Bi

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Science Advances  22 Dec 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 12, eaao6661
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao6661

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Topological Dirac semimetals (TDSs) are three-dimensional analogs of graphene, with carriers behaving like massless Dirac fermions in three dimensions. In graphene, substrate disorder drives fluctuations in Fermi energy, necessitating construction of heterostructures of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) to minimize the fluctuations. Three-dimensional TDSs obviate the substrate and should show reduced EF fluctuations due to better metallic screening and higher dielectric constants. We map the potential fluctuations in TDS Na3Bi using a scanning tunneling microscope. The rms potential fluctuations are significantly smaller than the thermal energy room temperature (ΔEF,rms = 4 to 6 meV = 40 to 70 K) and comparable to the highest-quality graphene on h-BN. Surface Na vacancies produce a novel resonance close to the Dirac point with surprisingly large spatial extent and provide a unique way to tune the surface density of states in a TDS thin-film material. Sparse defect clusters show bound states whose occupation may be changed by applying a bias to the scanning tunneling microscope tip, offering an opportunity to study a quantum dot connected to a TDS reservoir.

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