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Sanchez-Barriga, J.; Battiato, M.; Krivenkov, M.; Golias, E.; Varykhalov, A.; Romualdi, A.; Yashina, L. V.; Minar, J.; Kornilov, O.; Ebert, H.; Held, K.; Braun, J. (2017): Subpicosecond spin dynamics of excited states in the topological insulator Bi2Te3. In: Physical Review B, Vol. 95, No. 12, 125405
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Abstract

Using time-, spin-, and angle-resolved photoemission, we investigate the ultrafast spin dynamics of hot electrons on the surface of the topological insulator Bi2Te3 following optical excitation by femtosecond-infrared pulses. We observe two surface-resonance states above the Fermi level coexisting with a transient population of Dirac fermions that relax in similar to 2 ps. One state disperses up to similar to 0.4 eV just above the bulk continuum, and the other one at similar to 0.8 eV inside a projected bulk band gap. At the onset of the excitation, both states exhibit a reversed spin texture with respect to that of the transient Dirac bands, in agreement with our one-step photoemission calculations. Our data reveal that the high-energy state undergoes spin relaxation within similar to 0.5 ps, a process that triggers the subsequent spin dynamics of both the Dirac cone and the low-energy state, which behave as two dynamically locked electron populations. We discuss the origin of this behavior by comparing the relaxation times observed for electrons with opposite spins to the ones obtained from a microscopic Boltzmann model of ultrafast band cooling introduced into the photoemission calculations. Our results demonstrate that the nonequilibrium surface dynamics is governed by electron-electron rather than electron-phonon scattering, with a characteristic time scale unambiguously determined by the complex spin texture of excited states above the Fermi level. Our findings reveal the critical importance of detecting momentum and energy-resolved spin textures with femtosecond resolution to fully understand the subpicosecond dynamics of transient electrons on the surface of topological insulators.