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Title: Evidence for a monolayer excitonic insulator
The interplay between topology and correlations can generate a variety of unusual quantum phases, many of which remain to be explored. Recent advances have identified monolayer WTe2 as a promising material for exploring such interplay in a highly tunable fashion. The ground state of this two-dimensional (2D) crystal can be electrostatically tuned from a quantum spin Hall insulator (QSHI) to a superconductor. However, much remains unknown about the nature of these ground states, including the gap-opening mechanism of the insulating state. Here we report systematic studies of the insulating phase in WTe2 monolayer and uncover evidence supporting that the QSHI is also an excitonic insulator (EI). An EI, arising from the spontaneous formation of electron-hole bound states (excitons), is a largely unexplored quantum phase to date, especially when it is topological. Our experiments on high-quality transport devices reveal the presence of an intrinsic insulating state at the charge neutrality point (CNP) in clean samples. The state exhibits both a strong sensitivity to the electric displacement field and a Hall anomaly that are consistent with the excitonic pairing. We further confirm the correlated nature of this charge-neutral insulator by tunneling spectroscopy. Our results support the existence of an EI phase in more » the clean limit and rule out alternative scenarios of a band insulator or a localized insulator. These observations lay the foundation for understanding a new class of correlated insulators with nontrivial topology and identify monolayer WTe2 as a promising candidate for exploring quantum phases of ground-state excitons. « less
Award ID(s):
1904442 1420541
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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