Research ArticlePHYSICS

Evidence for a quantum spin Hall phase in graphene decorated with Bi2Te3 nanoparticles

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Science Advances  09 Nov 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 11, eaau6915
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau6915


Realization of the quantum spin Hall effect in graphene devices has remained an outstanding challenge dating back to the inception of the field of topological insulators. Graphene’s exceptionally weak spin-orbit coupling—stemming from carbon’s low mass—poses the primary obstacle. We experimentally and theoretically study artificially enhanced spin-orbit coupling in graphene via random decoration with dilute Bi2Te3 nanoparticles. Multiterminal resistance measurements suggest the presence of helical edge states characteristic of a quantum spin Hall phase; the magnetic field and temperature dependence of the resistance peaks, x-ray photoelectron spectra, scanning tunneling spectroscopy, and first-principles calculations further support this scenario. These observations highlight a pathway to spintronics and quantum information applications in graphene-based quantum spin Hall platforms.

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