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ISSN - 10980121, Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, 2016, vol. 94, 12, p. -

Mapping the effect of defect-induced strain disorder on the Dirac states of topological insulators

Storz Oliver, Cortijo Alberto, Wilfert Stefan, Kokh K. A., Tereshchenko O. E., Vozmediano María A H, Bode Matthias, Guinea Francisco, Sessi Paolo

© 2016 American Physical Society.We provide a detailed microscopic characterization of the influence of defect-induced disorder on the Dirac spectrum of three-dimensional topological insulators. By spatially resolved Landau-level spectroscopy measurements, we reveal the existence of nanoscale fluctuations of both the Dirac point energy as well as of the Dirac-fermion velocity which is found to spatially change in opposite direction for electrons and holes, respectively. These results evidence a scenario which goes beyond the existing picture based on chemical potential fluctuations. The findings are consistently explained by considering the microscopic effects of local stain introduced by defects, which our model calculations show to effectively couple to topological states, reshaping their Dirac-like dispersion over a large energy range. In particular, our results indicate that the presence of microscopic spatially varying stain, inevitably present in crystals because of the random distribution of defects, effectively couple to topological states and should be carefully considered for correctly describing the effects of disorder.