Possible Excitonic Insulating Phase in Quantum-Confined Sb Nanoflakes
In the 1960s, it was proposed that in small indirect band-gap materials, excitons can spontaneously form because the density of carriers is too low to screen the attractive Coulomb interaction between electrons and holes. The result is a novel strongly interacting insulating phase known as an excitonic insulator. Here we employ scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and spectroscopy (STS) to show that the enhanced Coulomb interaction in quantumconfined elemental Sb nanoflakes drives the system to the excitonic insulator state. The unique feature of the excitonic insulator, a charge density wave (CDW) without periodic lattice distortion, is directly observed. Furthermore, STS shows a gap induced by the CDW near the Fermi surface. Our observations suggest that the Sb(110) nanoflake is an excitonic insulator.
ARC/DE190100219, ARC/DP160101474, ARC/FT130100778