Surface oxidation effect on the electrical behaviour of Bi2Te2Se nanoplatelets
Charge transport in topological insulators is notably influenced by moisture and air in the surrounding environment. At present, however, little is known about the detailed composition of the oxidized surface and its impact on the electrical characteristics of these materials. Here, we investigate the surface oxide formation on the topological insulator Bi2Te2Se (BTS) and how this affects its electrical behavior. While ambient exposure of BTS nanoplatelets predominantly creates surface hydroxyl groups, oxygen plasma treatment yields a compact, few-nanometer thick surface oxide layer. The plasma causes p-type doping, accompanied by a decrease of the effective platelet thickness, the interplay of which is manifested in a resistance maximum as a function of plasma treatment time. It is furthermore demonstrated that the structural integrity of the plasma-derived surface oxide is sufficient to enable its use as a gate insulator layer in combination with a top gate.