Laser-Based Angle-Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy of Topological Insulators

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Laser-Based Angle-Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy of Topological Insulators

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Title: Laser-Based Angle-Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy of Topological Insulators
Author: Wang, Yihua
Citation: Wang, Yihua. 2012. Laser-Based Angle-Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy of Topological Insulators. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Topological insulators (TI) are a new phase of matter with very exotic electronic properties on their surface. As a direct consequence of the topological order, the surface electrons of TI form bands that cross the Fermi surface odd number of times and are guaranteed to be metallic. They also have a linear energy-momentum dispersion relationship that satisfies the Dirac equation and are therefore called Dirac fermions. The surface Dirac fermions of TI are spin-polarized with the direction of the spin locked to momentum and are immune from certain scatterings. These unique properties of surface electrons provide a platform for utilizing TI in future spin-based electronics and quantum computation. The surface bands of 3D TI can be directly mapped by angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) and the spin polarization can be determined by spin-resolved ARPES. These types of experiments are the first to establish the 3D topological order, which demonstrates the power of ARPES in probing the surface of strongly spin-orbit coupled materials. Extensive investigation of TI has ranged from understanding the fundamental electronic and lattice structure of various TI compounds to building TI-based devices in search of more exotic particles such as Majorana fermions and magnetic monopoles. Surface-sensitive techniques that can efficiently disentangle the charge and spin degrees of freedom have been crucially important in tackling the multi-faceted problems of TI. In this thesis, I show that laser-based ARPES in combination with a time-of-flight spectrometer is a powerful tool to study the spin structure and charge dynamics of the Dirac fermions on the surface of TI. Chapter 1 gives a brief introduction of TI. Chapter 2 describes the basic principles behind ARPES and time-resolved ARPES (TrARPES). Chapter 3 provides a detailed account of the experimental setup to perform laser-based ARPES and TrARPES. In Chapters 4 and 5, how these two techniques are effectively applied to investigate two unique electronic properties of TI is elaborated. Through these studies, I have obtained a complete mapping of the spin texture of several prototypical topological insulators and have uncovered the cooling mechanism governing the hot surface Dirac fermions.
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