A two-dimensional topological insulator (2DTI) is guaranteed to have a helical one-dimensional edge mode in which spin is locked to momentum, producing the quantum spin Hall effect and prohibiting elastic backscattering at zero magnetic field. No monolayer material has yet been shown to be a 2DTI, but recently the Weyl semimetal WTe 2 was predicted to become a 2DTI in monolayer form if a bulk gap opens. Here, we report that, at temperatures below about 100 K, monolayer WTe 2 does become insulating in its interior, while the edges still conduct. The edge conduction is strongly suppressed by an in-plane magnetic field and is independent of gate voltage, save for mesoscopic fluctuations that grow on cooling due to a zero-bias anomaly, which reduces the linear-response conductance. Bilayer WTe 2 also becomes insulating at low temperatures but does not show edge conduction. Many of these observations are consistent with monolayer WTe 2 being a 2DTI. However, the low-temperature edge conductance, for contacts spacings down to 150 nm, never reaches values higher than - 1/420 μS, about half the predicted value of e 2 /h, suggesting significant elastic scattering in the edge.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)