The so-called quantum spin Hall phase is a topologically nontrivial insulating phase that is predicted to appear in graphene and graphenelike systems. In this paper we address the question of whether this topological property persists in multilayered systems. We consider two situations: purely multilayer graphene and heterostructures where graphene is encapsulated by trivial insulators with a strong spin-orbit coupling. We use a four-orbital tight-binding model that includes full atomic spin-orbit coupling and we calculate the Z2 topological invariant of the bulk states as well as the edge states of semi-infinite crystals with armchair termination. For homogeneous multilayers we find that even when the spin-orbit interaction opens a gap for all possible stackings, only those with an odd number of layers host gapless edge states while those with an even number of layers are trivial insulators. For heterostructures where graphene is encapsulated by trivial insulators, it turns out that interlayer coupling is able to induce a topological gap whose size is controlled by the spin-orbit coupling of the encapsulating materials, indicating that the quantum spin Hall phase can be induced by proximity to trivial insulators.
|Journal||Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 30 Jun 2015|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|