Two-dimensional ferroelectric topological insulators in functionalized atomically thin bismuth layers

Liangzhi Kou, Huixia Fu, Yandong Ma, Binghai Yan, Ting Liao, Aijun Du, Changfeng Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce a class of two-dimensional (2D) materials that possess coexisting ferroelectric and topologically insulating orders. Such ferroelectric topological insulators (FETIs) occur in noncentrosymmetric atomic layer structures with strong spin-orbit coupling (SOC). We showcase a prototype 2D FETI in an atomically thin bismuth layer functionalized by CH2OH, which exhibits a large ferroelectric polarization that is switchable by a ligand molecule rotation mechanism and a strong SOC that drives a band inversion leading to the topologically insulating state. An external electric field that switches the ferroelectric polarization also tunes the spin texture in the underlying atomic lattice. Moreover, the functionalized bismuth layer exhibits an additional quantum order driven by the valley splitting at the K and K' points in the Brillouin zone stemming from the symmetry breaking and strong SOC in the system, resulting in a remarkable state of matter with the simultaneous presence of the quantum spin Hall and quantum valley Hall effect. These phenomena are predicted to exist in other similarly constructed 2D FETIs, thereby offering a unique quantum material platform for discovering novel physics and exploring innovative applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number075429
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number7
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2018


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