Uniaxial Strain-Induced Phase Transition in the 2D Topological Semimetal IrTe2


Author: Christopher W Nicholson, Maxime Rumo, Aki Pulkkinen, Geoffroy Kremer, Björn Salzmann, Marie-Laure Mottas, Baptiste Hildebrand, Thomas Jaouen, Timur K Kim, Saumya Mukherjee, KeYuan Ma, Matthi Nature Logo | © Nature Communications Materials
URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s43246-021-00130-5
Date: 2021
Instruments: DA30, LT STM, LT STM Lab, R4000, Materials Innovation Platform (MIP)

Strain is ubiquitous in solid-state materials, but despite its fundamental importance and technological relevance, leveraging externally applied strain to gain control over material properties is still in its infancy. In particular, strain control over the diverse phase transitions and topological states in two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides remains an open challenge. Here, we exploit uniaxial strain to stabilize the long-debated structural ground state of the 2D topological semimetal IrTe2, which is hidden in unstrained samples. Combined angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and scanning tunneling microscopy data reveal the strain-stabilized phase has a 6 × 1 periodicity and undergoes a Lifshitz transition, granting unprecedented spectroscopic access to previously inaccessible type-II topological Dirac states that dominate the modified inter-layer hopping. Supported by density functional theory calculations, we show that strain induces an Ir to Te charge transfer resulting in strongly weakened inter-layer Te bonds and a reshaped energetic landscape favoring the 6×1 phase. Our results highlight the potential to exploit strain-engineered properties in layered materials, particularly in the context of tuning inter-layer behavior.