Accurate Ab Initio Quantum Mechanics Simulations of Bi2Se3 and Bi2Te3 Topological Insulator Surfaces.

Research paper by Jason M JM Crowley, Jamil J Tahir-Kheli, William A WA Goddard

Indexed on: 02 Jan '16Published on: 02 Jan '16Published in: Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters


It has been established experimentally that Bi2Te3 and Bi2Se3 are topological insulators, with zero band gap surface states exhibiting linear dispersion at the Fermi energy. Standard density functional theory (DFT) methods such as PBE lead to large errors in the band gaps for such strongly correlated systems, while more accurate GW methods are too expensive computationally to apply to the thin films studied experimentally. We show here that the hybrid B3PW91 density functional yields GW-quality results for these systems at a computational cost comparable to PBE. The efficiency of our approach stems from the use of Gaussian basis functions instead of plane waves or augmented plane waves. This remarkable success without empirical corrections of any kind opens the door to computational studies of real chemistry involving the topological surface state, and our approach is expected to be applicable to other semiconductors with strong spin-orbit coupling.