Surface oxidation of the topological insulator Bi2Se3
Green, Avery J.
An, Yong Q.
Diebold, Alain C.
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Subjectaging; oxidation; Bi2Se3; surface state; exfoliation; atomic force microscopy; X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy; ambient exposure; variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry; second harmonic generation; ellipsometry; modeling
An understanding of the aging and oxidation of the (0001) surface of Bi2Se3 is critical to a comprehensive physical picture of its topologically protected surface states. Here, the authors contribute new experimental observations about the aging and oxidation process. The authors find that surface aging in ambient conditions occurs in two major steps. Within 2 h of exfoliation, a series of ~3.2A ° high islands are observed by atomic force microscopy over approximately 10% of the surface. Subsequently, patch growth stops, and oxidation begins after the 2 h and continues until one quintuple layer has been oxidized. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy shows no sign of oxidation before ~120 min of exposure to air, and the oxygen 1 s peak, as well as oxidized Se 3d and Bi 4d peaks, are clearly present after ~190 min of ambient exposure. Variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry indicates that the oxidation of a full quintuple layer occurs on the time scale of days. These results are in good agreement with the time dependent changes observed in the surface crystal structure by second harmonic generation. In addition to providing the ability to nondestructively measure oxide on the surface of Bi2Se3 crystals, ellipsometry can be used to identify the thickness of Bi2Se3 flakes. With these methods, the authors have constructed a consistent, experimentally based model of aging process at the surface of Bi2Se3.