Superconducting Long-Range Proximity Effect through the Atomically Flat Interface of a Bi2Te3 Topological Insulator
We report on structural and electronic properties of superconducting nanohybrids made of Pb grown in the ultrahigh vacuum on the atomically clean surface of single crystals of topological Bi2Te3. In situ scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy demonstrated that the resulting network is composed of Pb-nanoislands dispersed on the surface and linked together by an amorphous atomic layer of Pb, which wets Bi2Te3. As a result, the superconducting state of the system is characterized by a thickness-dependent superconducting gap of Pb-islands and by a very unusual position-independent proximity gap between them. Furthermore, the data analysis and DFT calculations demonstrate that the Pb-wetting layer leads to significant modifications of both topological and trivial electronic states of Bi2Te3, which are responsible for the observed long-range proximity effect.