Metallic surface states in elemental electrides
AbstractRecent high-pressure studies have uncovered an alternative class of materials, insulating electride phases created by compression of simple metals. These exotic insulating phases develop an unusual electronic structure: the valence electrons move away from the nuclei and condense at interstitial sites, thereby acquiring the role of atomic anions or even molecules. We show that they are also topological phases as they exhibit a wide diversity of metallic surface states (SSs) that are controlled by the bulk electronic structure. The electronic reconstruction occurs that involves charge transfer between the surfaces of opposite polarity making both of them metallic, resembling the appearance of the two-dimensional gas at the renowned SrTiO3/LaAlO3 interface. Remarkably, these materials thus embody seemingly disparate physical concepts—chemical electron localization, topological control of bulk-surface conductivity, and the two-dimensional electron gas. Such metallic SSs could be probed by direct electrical resistance or by standard photoemission measurements on recovery to ambient conditions.