Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there a way to directly, here I means in real space, observe the interaction of the surface states of 3D topological insulators with defects (dopings and adatoms)? How to observe the spin texture of these surface states? Is there any experimental proposal for this?

share|cite|improve this question
At a rough guess, I'd say spin-polarised STM might manage? I'm a theorist though, so I'd be massively surprised if that actually works! – genneth Sep 2 '11 at 12:58
Well, looks like I'm not the only theorist thinking it:, but I haven't found any experimental papers yet... – genneth Sep 2 '11 at 13:00
Thanks genneth. I am not familiar with spin polarized STM, is it the magnetic field created by the tip going to affect the properties of the surface? – Z.Sun Sep 17 '11 at 6:14
I think that neutron reflectometry might be able to pull this off. – Jen May 17 '12 at 12:57
@genneth: I was writing this as an answer, but you already thought of it. You should make this an answer--- it will certainly work, as it is similar to observing electron textures on high-Tc materials with STM, which is done by Seamus Davis. – Ron Maimon Jul 16 '12 at 8:49

Take a look at this paper It describes one rather particular case: the boundary of the graphene sheet. However, they should cite other works in this direction and be cited by others.

share|cite|improve this answer

Lorentz force microscopy, magnetic force microscopy (MFM) or scanning Kerr microscopy should work.

share|cite|improve this answer
The scanning Kerr microscopy is too coarse (it's at the wavelength of light) and the magnetic force microscopy uses electrons, so it is also too coarse. The Lorentz force microscopy is also too coarse. These are atomic scale interactions. – Ron Maimon Jul 16 '12 at 8:47

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.