Interplay of orbital effects and nanoscale strain in topological crystalline insulators

Daniel Walkup, Badih A. Assaf, Kane L. Scipioni, R. Sankar, Fangcheng Chou, Guoqing Chang, Hsin Lin, Ilija Zeljkovic, Vidya Madhavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Orbital degrees of freedom can have pronounced effects on the fundamental properties of electrons in solids. In addition to influencing bandwidths, gaps, correlation strength and dispersion, orbital effects have been implicated in generating novel electronic and structural phases. Here we show how the orbital nature of bands can result in non-trivial effects of strain on band structure. We use scanning-tunneling microscopy to study the effects of strain on the electronic structure of a heteroepitaxial thin film of a topological crystalline insulator, SnTe. By studying the effects of uniaxial strain on the band structure we find a surprising effect where strain applied in one direction has the most pronounced influence on the band structure along the perpendicular direction. Our theoretical calculations indicate that this effect arises from the orbital nature of the conduction and valence bands. Our results imply that a microscopic model capturing strain effects must include a consideration of the orbital nature of bands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1550
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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