ISSN - 20411723, Nature Communications, 2016, vol. 7, p. -
Spin-texture inversion in the giant Rashba semiconductor BiTeI
Semiconductors with strong spin-orbit interaction as the underlying mechanism for the generation of spin-polarized electrons are showing potential for applications in spintronic devices. Unveiling the full spin texture in momentum space for such materials and its relation to the microscopic structure of the electronic wave functions is experimentally challenging and yet essential for exploiting spin-orbit effects for spin manipulation. Here we employ a state-of-the-art photoelectron momentum microscope with a multichannel spin filter to directly image the spin texture of the layered polar semiconductor BiTeI within the full two-dimensional momentum plane. Our experimental results, supported by relativistic ab initio calculations, demonstrate that the valence and conduction band electrons in BiTeI have spin textures of opposite chirality and of pronounced orbital dependence beyond the standard Rashba model, the latter giving rise to strong optical selection-rule effects on the photoelectron spin polarization. These observations open avenues for spin-texture manipulation by atomic-layer and charge carrier control in polar semiconductors.