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Open Access Nano Express

Collective excitations on a surface of topological insulator

Dmitry K Efimkin1, Yurii E Lozovik12* and Alexey A Sokolik1

Author affiliations

1 Institute for Spectroscopy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Fizicheskaya 5, 142190, Troitsk, Moscow Region, Russia

2 Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Institutskii Per. 9, 141700, Dolgoprudny, Moscow Region, Russia

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:163  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-163

Published: 29 February 2012

Abstract

We study collective excitations in a helical electron liquid on a surface of three-dimensional topological insulator. Electron in helical liquid obeys Dirac-like equation for massless particles and direction of its spin is strictly determined by its momentum. Due to this spin-momentum locking, collective excitations in the system manifest themselves as coupled charge- and spin-density waves. We develop quantum field-theoretical description of spin-plasmons in helical liquid and study their properties and internal structure. Value of spin polarization arising in the system with excited spin-plasmons is calculated. We also consider the scattering of spin-plasmons on magnetic and nonmagnetic impurities and external potentials, and show that the scattering occurs mainly into two side lobes. Analogies with Dirac electron gas in graphene are discussed.

PACS: 73.20.Mf; 73.22.Lp; 75.25.Dk.