Scanning tunneling microscopy study of the possible topological surface states in BiTeCl
Recently, the non-centrosymmetric bismuth tellurohalides such as BiTeCl are being studied as possible candidates for topological insulators. While some photoemission studies showed that BiTeCl is an inversion asymmetric topological insulator, others showed that it is a normal semiconductor with Rashba splitting. Meanwhile, first-principle calculations have failed to confirm the existence of topological surface states in BiTeCl so far. Therefore, the topological nature of BiTeCl requires further investigation. Here we report a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy study on the surface states of BiTeCl single crystals. On the tellurium (Te) -terminated surfaces with relatively low defect density, evidence for topological surface states is observed in the quasi-particle interference patterns, both in the anisotropy of the scattering vectors and the fast decay of the interference near the step edges. Meanwhile, on the samples with much higher defect densities, we observed surface states that behave differently. Our results may help to resolve the current controversy on the topological nature of BiTeCl.