Imaging quantum spin Hall edges in monolayer WTe2

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Science Advances  08 Feb 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 2, eaat8799
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat8799


A two-dimensional (2D) topological insulator exhibits the quantum spin Hall (QSH) effect, in which topologically protected conducting channels exist at the sample edges. Experimental signatures of the QSH effect have recently been reported in an atomically thin material, monolayer WTe2. Here, we directly image the local conductivity of monolayer WTe2 using microwave impedance microscopy, establishing beyond doubt that conduction is indeed strongly localized to the physical edges at temperatures up to 77 K and above. The edge conductivity shows no gap as a function of gate voltage, and is suppressed by magnetic field as expected. We observe additional conducting features which can be explained by edge states following boundaries between topologically trivial and nontrivial regions. These observations will be critical for interpreting and improving the properties of devices incorporating WTe2. Meanwhile, they reveal the robustness of the QSH channels and the potential to engineer them in the monolayer material platform.

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