Role of K/Bi disorder in the electronic structure of β -K2 Bi8 Se13

Khang Hoang*, Aleksandra Tomic, S. D. Mahanti, Theodora Kyratsi, Duck Young Chung, S. H. Tessmer, Mercouri G. Kanatzidis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We have carried out tunneling spectroscopy and first-principles studies for β -K2 Bi8 Se13, a promising thermoelectric material with partially disordered mixed K/Bi sites. The tunneling data, obtained with a scanning tunneling microscope (STM), show that the system is a semiconductor with a band gap of □0.4 eV and band-tail states near the valence-band top and the conduction-band bottom. First-principles calculations, on the other hand, show that β -K2 Bi8 Se13 can be semimetallic or semiconducting depending on the arrangements of the K and Bi atoms in the mixed sites. The electronic structure of β -K2 Bi8 Se13 near the band-gap region is largely determined by unbonded Sep states and states associated with strained bonds which are present due to K/Bi disorder and by the Bip-Sep hybridization which tends to drive the system toward metallicity. Among the different K/Bi arrangements investigated, we have identified a structural model (quasidisordered structure) that is able to satisfactorily reproduce the atomic and electronic structures of β -K2 Bi8 Se13; i.e., the local composition in the mixed channels as observed experimentally and the band gap and tails as seen in the STM measurements. We argue that transport properties of β -K2 Bi8 Se13 can be qualitatively understood in terms of the electronic structure obtained in calculations using the above structural model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125112
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 15 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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