Optimizing topological switching in confined 2D-Xene nanoribbons via finite-size effects
Applied Physics Reviews
In a blueprint for topological electronics, edge state transport in a topological insulator material can be controlled by employing a gate-induced topological quantum phase transition. Here, by studying the width dependence of electronic properties, it is inferred that zigzag-Xene nanoribbons are promising materials for topological electronics with a display of unique physical characteristics associated with the intrinsic band topology and the finite-size effects on gate-induced topological switching. First, due to intertwining with intrinsic band topology-driven energy-zero modes in the pristine case, spin-filtered chiral edge states in zigzag-Xene nanoribbons remain gapless and protected against backward scattering even with finite inter-edge overlapping in ultra-narrow ribbons, i.e., a 2D quantum spin Hall material turns into a 1D topological metal. Second, mainly due to width- and momentum-dependent tunability of the gate-induced inter-edge coupling, the threshold-voltage required for switching between gapless and gapped edge states reduces as the width decreases, without any fundamental lower bound. Third, when the width of zigzag-Xene nanoribbons is smaller than a critical limit, topological switching between edge states can be attained without bulk bandgap closing and reopening. This is primarily due to the quantum confinement effect on the bulk band spectrum, which increases the nontrivial bulk bandgap with decrease in width. The existence of such protected gapless edge states and reduction in threshold-voltage accompanied by enhancement in the bulk bandgap overturns the general wisdom of utilizing narrow-gap and wide channel materials for reducing the threshold-voltage in a standard field effect transistor analysis and paves the way toward low-voltage topological devices.
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