Topological Insulators from a Chemist’s Perspective


  • This work was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG of the Research Unit ASPIMATT FOR 1464. L.M. would like to thank the Graduate School of Excellence MAINZ GS 266 for their financial support. H.J.Z. and S.C.Z. are funded by the Army Research Office (No. W911NF-09-1-0508) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Microsystems Technology Office, MesoDynamic Architecture Program (MESO) through the contract number N66001-11-1-4105.


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Heavy stuff: Topological insulators are formed of heavy atoms and host special surface or edge states. The electronic structure is characterized by a Dirac cone within a bulk band gap (see picture) that is generated by strong spin–orbit coupling. A chemist's perspective in terms of bonds, bands, symmetry, and nuclear charge is provided.