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Opposite current-induced spin polarizations in bulk-metallic Bi2Se3 and bulk-insulating Bi2Te2Se topological insulator thin flakes

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  • Jifa Tian, Purdue University, University of Wyoming
  • ,
  • Cüneyt Şahin, University of Iowa
  • ,
  • Ireneusz Miotkowski, Purdue University
  • ,
  • Michael E. Flatté, University of Iowa
  • ,
  • Yong P. Chen

One of the most fundamental and exotic properties of three-dimensional (3D) topological insulators (TIs) is spin-momentum locking (SML) of their topological surface states (TSSs), promising for potential applications in future spintronics. However, other possible conduction channels, such as a trivial two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) with strong Rashba-type spin-orbit interaction (SOI) and bulk-conducting states that may possess a spin Hall effect (SHE), can coexist in 3D TIs, making determining the origin of the current-induced spin polarization (CISP) difficult. In this work, we directly compared the CISP between bulk-insulating Bi2Te2Se (BTS221) and bulk-metallic Bi2Se3 thin flakes using spin potentiometry. In the bulk-insulating BTS221, the observed CISP has a sign consistent with the expected helicity of the SML of the TSS, but an opposite sign to its calculated bulk spin Hall conductivity. However, compared to BTS221, an opposite CISP is observed in the bulk-metallic Bi2Se3, consistent with both the expectations of its Rashba-Edelstein effect of the band-bending induced 2DEG and bulk intrinsic spin Hall Effect (SHE). If one assumes a representative occupation of the Rashba band of 3×1013cm-2 in Bi2Se3 with a relevant relaxation time of 100 fs, the contribution to the CISP could be more dominated by the bulk intrinsic SHE. Our results provide an electrical way to distinguish the TSS from other possible conducting channels in spin transport measurements on 3D TIs, and open ways for the potential applications in charge-spin conversion devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035412
JournalPhysical Review B
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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