The discovery of two-dimensional gapless Dirac fermions in graphene and topological insulators (TI) has sparked extensive ongoing research toward applications of their unique electronic properties. The gapless surface states in three-dimensional insulators indicate a distinct topological phase of matter with a non-trivial Z2 invariant that can be verified by angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy or magnetoresistance quantum oscillation. In TI nanowires, the gapless surface states exhibit Aharonov-Bohm (AB) oscillations in conductance, with this quantum interference effect accompanying a change in the number of transverse one-dimensional modes in transport. Thus, while the density of states (DOS) of such nanowires is expected to show such AB oscillation, this effect has yet to be observed. Here, we adopt nanomechanical measurements that reveal AB oscillations in the DOS of a topological insulator. The TI nanowire under study is an electromechanical resonator embedded in an electrical circuit, and quantum capacitance effects from DOS oscillation modulate the circuit capacitance thereby altering the spring constant to generate mechanical resonant frequency shifts. Detection of the quantum capacitance effects from surface-state DOS is facilitated by the small effective capacitances and high quality factors of nanomechanical resonators, and as such the present technique could be extended to study diverse quantum materials at nanoscale.

Published : "arXiv Mesoscale and Nanoscale Physics".