Ambipolar field effect in the ternary topological insulator (BixSb1–x)2Te3 by composition tuning

Desheng Kong, Yulin Chen, Judy J. Cha, Qianfan Zhang, James G. Analytis, Keji Lai, Zhongkai Liu, Seung Sae Hong, Kristie J. Koski, Sung-Kwan Mo, Zahid Hussain, Ian R. Fisher, Zhi-Xun Shen, Yi Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

341 Scopus citations


Topological insulators exhibit a bulk energy gap and spin-polarized surface states that lead to unique electronic properties 1-9, with potential applications in spintronics and quantum information processing. However, transport measurements have typically been dominated by residual bulk charge carriers originating from crystal defects or environmental doping 10-12, and these mask the contribution of surface carriers to charge transport in these materials. Controlling bulk carriers in current topological insulator materials, such as the binary sesquichalcogenides Bi 2Te 3, Sb 2Te 3 and Bi 2Se 3, has been explored extensively by means of material doping 8,9,11 and electrical gating 13-16, but limited progress has been made to achieve nanostructures with low bulk conductivity for electronic device applications. Here we demonstrate that the ternary sesquichalcogenide (Bi xSb 1-x) 2Te 3 is a tunable topological insulator system. By tuning the ratio of bismuth to antimony, we are able to reduce the bulk carrier density by over two orders of magnitude, while maintaining the topological insulator properties. As a result, we observe a clear ambipolar gating effect in (Bi xSb 1-x) 2Te 3 nanoplate field-effect transistor devices, similar to that observed in graphene field-effect transistor devices 17. The manipulation of carrier type and density in topological insulator nanostructures demonstrated here paves the way for the implementation of topological insulators in nanoelectronics and spintronics. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-709
Number of pages5
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 2 2011
Externally publishedYes


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