Room-temperature realization of macroscopic quantum phases is one of the major pursuits in fundamental physics1,2. The quantum spin Hall phase3–6 is a topological quantum phase that features a two-dimensional insulating bulk and a helical edge state. Here we use vector magnetic field and variable temperature based scanning tunnelling microscopy to provide micro-spectroscopic evidence for a room-temperature quantum spin Hall edge state on the surface of the higher-order topological insulator Bi4Br4. We find that the atomically resolved lattice exhibits a large insulating gap of over 200 meV, and an atomically sharp monolayer step edge hosts an in-gap gapless state, suggesting topological bulk–boundary correspondence. An external magnetic field can gap the edge state, consistent with the time-reversal symmetry protection inherent in the underlying band topology. We further identify the geometrical hybridization of such edge states, which not only supports the Z2 topology of the quantum spin Hall state but also visualizes the building blocks of the higher-order topological insulator phase. Our results further encourage the exploration of high-temperature transport quantization of the putative topological phase reported here.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering