Are quantum spin Hall edge modes more resilient to disorder, sample geometry and inelastic scattering than quantum Hall edge modes?
On the surface of 2D topological insulators, 1D quantum spin Hall (QSH) edge modes occur with Dirac-like dispersion. Unlike quantum Hall (QH) edge modes, which occur at high magnetic fields in 2D electron gases, the occurrence of QSH edge modes is due to spin-orbit scattering in the bulk of the material. These QSH edge modes are spin-dependent, and chiral-opposite spins move in opposing directions. Electronic spin has a larger decoherence and relaxation time than charge. In view of this, it is expected that QSH edge modes will be more robust to disorder and inelastic scattering than QH edge modes, which are charge-dependent and spin-unpolarized. However, we notice no such advantage accrues in QSH edge modes when subjected to the same degree of contact disorder and/or inelastic scattering in similar setups as QH edge modes. In fact we observe that QSH edge modes are more susceptible to inelastic scattering and contact disorder than QH edge modes. Furthermore, while a single disordered contact has no effect on QH edge modes, it leads to a finite charge Hall current in the case of QSH edge modes, and thus a vanishing of the pure QSH effect. For more than a single disordered contact while QH states continue to remain immune to disorder, QSH edge modes become more susceptible—the Hall resistance for the QSH effect changes sign with increasing disorder. In the case of many disordered contacts with inelastic scattering included, while quantization of Hall edge modes holds, for QSH edge modes a finite charge Hall current still flows. For QSH edge modes in the inelastic scattering regime we distinguish between two cases: with spin-flip and without spin-flip scattering. Finally, while asymmetry in sample geometry can have a deleterious effect in the QSH case, it has no impact in the QH case.
Journal of Physics Condensed Matter
- Pub Date:
- April 2016
- Condensed Matter - Mesoscale and Nanoscale Physics;
- Mathematical Physics;
- Quantum Physics
- 15 pages, 6 figures, Accepted for publication in J. Physics Condensed Matter (2016)