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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Electronic Structure of YbB6: Is it a Topological Insulator or Not?


To finally resolve the controversial issue of whether or not the electronic structure of YbB_{6} is nontrivially topological, we have made a combined study using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) of the nonpolar (110) surface and density functional theory (DFT). The flat-band conditions of the (110) ARPES avoid the strong band bending effects of the polar (001) surface and definitively show that YbB_{6} has a topologically trivial B 2p-Yb 5d semiconductor band gap of ∼0.3  eV. Accurate determination of the low energy band topology in DFT requires the use of a modified Becke-Johnson exchange potential incorporating spin-orbit coupling and an on-site Yb 4f Coulomb interaction U as large as 7 eV. The DFT result, confirmed by a more precise GW band calculation, is similar to that of a small gap non-Kondo nontopological semiconductor. Additionally, the pressure-dependent electronic structure of YbB_{6} is investigated theoretically and found to transform into a p-d overlap semimetal with small Yb mixed valency.

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