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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Anomalous orbital structure in two-dimensional titanium dichalcogenides

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Generally, lattice distortions play a key role in determining the electronic ground states of materials. Although it is well known that trigonal distortions are generic to most two dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides, the impact of this structural distortion on the electronic structure and topological properties has not been understood conclusively. Here, by using a combination of polarization dependent X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and atomic multiplet cluster calculations, we have investigated the electronic structure of titanium dichalcogenides TiX2 (X = S, Se, Te), where the magnitude of the trigonal distortion increase monotonically from S to Se and Te. Our results reveal the presence of an anomalously large crystal field splitting. This unusual kind of crystal field splitting is likely responsible for the unconventional electronic structure of TiX2 compounds and ultimately controls the degree of the electronic phase protection. Our findings also indicate the drawback of the distorted crystal field picture in explaining the observed electronic ground state and emphasize the key importance of trigonal symmetry, metal-ligand hybridization and electron-electron correlations in defining the electronic structures at the Fermi energy.

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