Light control of surface–bulk coupling by terahertz vibrational coherence in a topological insulator

Academic Article


  • The demand for disorder-tolerant quantum logic and spin electronics can be met by generating and controlling dissipationless spin currents protected by topology. Dirac fermions with helical spin-locking surface transport offer a way of achieving such a goal. Yet, surface-bulk coupling can lead to strong Dirac electron scattering with bulk carriers and phonons as well as impurities, assisted by such dissipative channel, which results in “topological breakdown”. Here, we demonstrate that coherent lattice vibrations periodically driven by a single-cycle terahertz (THz) pulse can significantly suppress such dissipative channel in topological insulators. This is achieved by reducing the phase space in the bulk available for Dirac fermion scattering into during coherent lattice oscillations in Bi2Se3. This light-induced suppression manifests as a remarkable transition exclusively in surface transport, absent for bulk, above the THz electric fields for driving coherent phonons, which prolongs the surface transport lifetime. These results, together with simulations, identify the critical role of spin–orbit coupling for the “phase space contraction” mechanism that suppresses the surface-bulk coupling. Imposing vibrational quantum coherence into topological states of matter may become a universal light control principle for reinforcing the symmetry-protected helical transport.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yang X; Luo L; Vaswani C; Zhao X; Yao Y; Cheng D; Liu Z; Kim RHJ; Liu X; Dobrowolska-Furdyna M
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 1