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Dimensionality-driven metal to Mott insulator transition in two-dimensional 1T-TaSe2
KIAS Author
Son, Young-Woo,Kim, Minjae,Jang, Bo Gyu
Two-dimensional materials represent a major frontier for research into exotic many-body quantum phenomena. In the extreme two-dimensional limit, electron-electron interaction often dominates over other electronic energy scales, leading to strongly correlated effects such as quantum spin liquid and unconventional superconductivity. The dominance is conventionally attributed to the lack of electron screening in the third dimension. Here, we discover an intriguing metal to Mott insulator transition in 1T-TaSe2 that defies conventional wisdom. Specifically, we find that dimensionality crossover, instead of reduced screening, drives the transition in atomically thin 1T-TaSe2. A dispersive band crossing the Fermi level is found to be responsible for the bulk metallicity in the material. Reducing the dimensionality, however, effectively quenches the kinetic energy of these initially itinerant electrons, and drives the material into a Mott insulating state. The dimensionality-driven metal to Mott insulator transition resolves the long-standing dichotomy between metallic bulk and insulating surface of 1T-TaSe2. Our work further reveals a new pathway for modulating two-dimensional materials that enables exploring strongly correlated systems across uncharted parameter space.