Spintronic signatures of Klein tunneling in topological insulators

Yunkun Xie, Yaohua Tan, Avik W. Ghosh, Physical Review B , 96 (20) :205151 (2017).


Klein tunneling, the perfect transmission of normally incident Dirac electrons across a potential barrier, has been widely studied in graphene and explored to design switches, albeit indirectly. We show an alternative way to directly measure Klein tunneling for spin-momentum locked electrons crossing a PN junction along a three-dimensional topological insulator surface. In these topological insulator PN junctions (TIPNJs), the spin texture and momentum distribution of transmitted electrons can be measured electrically using a ferromagnetic probe for varying gate voltages and angles of current injection. Based on transport models across a TIPNJ, we show that the asymmetry in the potentiometric signal between PP and PN junctions and its overall angular dependence serve as a direct signature of Klein tunneling.