Atomistic investigation of surface characteristics and electronic features at high-purity FeSi(110) presenting interfacial metallicity
B. Yang, M. Uphoff, Y.-Q. Zhang, J. Reichert, A.P. Seitsonen, A. Bauer, C. Pfleiderer, J.V. Barth
PNAS 118 , e2021203118 (2021).
Iron silicide (FeSi) provides multiple fascinating features whereby intriguing functional properties bearing significant application prospects were recognized. FeSi is understood notably as a correlated d-electron narrow-gap semiconductor and a putative Kondo insulator, hosting unconventional quasiparticles. Recently, metallic surface conduction channels were identified at cryogenic conditions and suggested to play a key role in the resistivity of high-quality single-crystalline specimens. Motivated by these findings, we prepared and closely examined a FeSi(110) surface with atomistically defined termination and topography. In the low-temperature regime, where surface metallicity emerges, the electronic band gap undergoes a subtle evolution. The pertaining key features, asymmetrization of the gap shape and formation of in-gap states, underscore the similarity of FeSi to unequivocal topological Kondo insulator materials.