Quantum spin Hall (QSH) insulators, a new class of quantum matters, can support topologically protected helical edge modes inside bulk insulating gap, which can lead to dissipationless transport. A major obstacle to reach wide application of QSH is the lack of suitable QSH compounds, which should be easily fabricated and has large size of bulk gap. Here we predict that single layer ZrTe$_5$ and HfTe$_5$ are the most promising candidates to reach the large gap QSH insulators with bulk direct (indirect) band gap as large as 0.4 eV (0.1 eV), and robust against external strains. The 3D crystals of these two materials are good layered compounds with very weak inter-layer bonding and are located near the phase boundary between weak and strong topological insulators, which pave a new way to future experimental studies on both QSH effect and topological phase transitions.
Weng, H., Dai, X., & Fang, Z. (2014). Transition-metal pentatelluride ZrTe5 and HfTe5: A paradigm for large-gap quantum spin hall insulators. Physical Review X, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevX.4.011002