In addition to novel surface states, topological insulators can also exhibit robust gapless states at crystalline defects. Step edges constitute a class of common defects on the surface of crystals. In this work we establish the topological nature of one-dimensional (1D) bound states localized at step edges of the (001) surface of a topological crystalline insulator Pb0.7Sn0.3Se, both theoretically and experimentally. We show that the topological stability of the step-edge states arises from an emergent particle-hole symmetry of the surface low-energy physics, and demonstrate the experimental signatures of the particle-hole symmetry breaking. We also reveal the effects of an external magnetic field on the 1D bound states. Our work suggests the possibility of similar topological step-edge modes in other topological materials with a rocksalt structure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics