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Simple Introduction to Angle Resolve Photoemission Spectroscopy ARPES

(Written by Kaushini Wickramasinghe, University of Oklahoma, USA)

Angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) is one of the most direct methods of studying the electronic structure of solids. This belongs to the family of photoelectron spectroscopy which uses the photoelectric effect. ARPES is a recent invention, but there are few important landmarks which lead the path for the invention of ARPES. The first breakthrough was the observation of photoelectric effect by Hertz in 1887. Then, Einstein explained photoelectric effect as a manifestation of the quantum nature of light in 1905. After many decades of hard work, Ives managed to investigate the angular dependence of photoemission from alkali metals in 1920. Finally, Innovation of ARPES was achieved by Juan Carlos Campuzano, Peter Johnson and Zhi-Xun Shen for which they were honored with the 2011 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter prize. In ARPES the sample is illuminated with sufficiently high energy monochromatic radiation, as a result the electrons are emitted by photoelectric effect and escape in vacuum in all directions. Photoelectric effect is observed when light is incident on a sample an electron absorbs a photon and escape from a material with a maximum kinetic energy the photon frequency and (where



, the material work function), more generally,

is the energy needed to move an electron up to the surface). Then, these electrons are

collected with an electron energy analyzer which is capable of measuring the kinetic energy of electrons in the vacuum. Once the kinetic energy of the electron is measured, the wave vector in

vacuum is also determined. Using the kinetic energy and the momentum in the vacuum, the energy and the momentum of the electron propagating in the solid is deduced in ARPES.

Theory of ARPES
There are two common models used in ARPES. One model is called three step model (figure 1a) in which the photoemission process is decomposed into three independent steps: optical excitation between the initial and the final Bloch eigenstates, travel of the excited electron to the surface, and escape of photoelectron into vacuum after transmission through the surface potential barrier. This is the most common approach, particularly when photoemission spectroscopy is used as a tool to map the band structures of the solids. The other model is called one step model (figure 1b) which is a quantum mechanical approach describing the process as one-step in terms of an optical transition between initial and final states consisting of many body wave functions that obey the appropriate boundary conditions at the surface of the solid.
Three-Step Model One-Step Model
Wave matching at the surface

Excitation into a bulk final state

Travel to the surface

Transmissi on through the surface

Excitation into a damp final state



Figure 1. A pictorial representation of a) . three- step model b). one-step model

In this paper, the three- step model is used for the discussion of the theory of ARPES. Due to the complexity of the photoemission process, we have assumed the independent particle picture which disregards the many body interactions and also, the sudden approximation which assumes that there is no interaction between the photoelectron and the system left behind. Therefore, the theory we develop here is valid for electrons with high kinetic energies. A monochromatized radiation with a fixed frequency h and a vector potential A is incident on a sample and the kinetic energy is measured by collecting the photoelectrons in a given direction (figure 2). This way, the wave vector (or momentum) photoelectron in vacuum is completely determined. Its modulus is given by and its components parallel

= = 2

of the

) and perpendicular (

) to the sample surface

are obtained in terms of the polar () and azimuthal () emission angles defined by the experiment:
1 2mEkin sin cos h 1 2mE kin sin sin h 1 2mEkin cos h

Kx =


Ky =


Kz =


Figure 2. Photoemission Geometry

Then the goal is to deduce the electronic dispersion relation the relation between the binding energy from and

for the solid left behind, i.e.

and momentum k propagating in the solid starting

measured for the photoelectron in vacuum. In order to do this we exploit the

total energy and momentum conservation laws:

= =

(4) (5) Within non-interacting electron picture, using energy conservation law, one can

relate, as pictorially described in figure 3, kinetic energy of the photoelectron to the binding energy of the electronic-state inside the solid:

Ekin = h EB W


Figure 3. Energetic of the photoemission process. The electron enegy distribution produced by the incoming photons, and measured as a function of kinetic energy of the photoelectrons (right), is more conveniently expressed in terms of the binding energy (left) when one refers to the density of states in the solid ( = 0 at )

In order to gain information of crystal electronic momentum, we can exploit conservation of momentum. Photon momentum can be neglected in equation 5, at the low photon energies used in ARPES measurements ( < 100 ), as it is much smaller than the typical Brillouin-zone

dimension 2 of a solid. Thus, as shown in figure 4 within three-step model description, the optical transition between the bulk initial and the final states can be described by a vertical transition in the reduced zone scheme ( = 0) or equivalently by a transition between

momentum space points connected by a reciprocal lattice vector G in the extended zone scheme ( = ). Crystal electronic momentum also can be decomposed into two components, one

parallel to the surface and the other perpendicular to the surface. Parallel component of the wave vector is continuous at the boundary whereas the perpendicular component is not conserved due to the abrupt potential change along the z axis. Considering the direct transition description in figure 4, the transmission through the sample surface is obtained by matching the bulk Bloch eigenstates inside the sample to the free-electron plane wave in vacuum. From the matching conditions it follows that the parallel component of the electron momentum is conserved in the process:
1 2mEkin h

k // = K // =


Where k // is the component parallel to the surface of the electron crystal momentum in the extended zone scheme. In order to determine the wave vector perpendicular to the surface a prior assumption is made for the dispersion of the electron final state involved in the photoemission process. We can use either the band structure calculations, or adopt a nearly free electron description for the final bulk Bloch state:



Where the electron momenta are defined in the extended zone scheme and bottom of the valence band as indicated in figure 4. Because of

correspond to the and

sin cos

which follows from figure 4 and equation 7, one obtain from equation 8:

= 2



is the potential, which correspond to the energy of the bottom of the . Using the equation 9 and the

bottom of the valance band referenced to the vacuum level measured values of of . and , if

is also known, then we can obtain the corresponding value from the experimentally observed periodicity of the

can be determined by infer


. This can be done by detecting the photoelectrons emitted along the surface and thus .

normal ( K // = 0 ) while varying the incident photon energy, and then measuring

Figure 4. Kinematics of the photoemission process within the three-step nearly free electron final state model a). direct optical transition in the solids b). Free electron final state in vacuum; c). corresponding photoelectron spectrum with a background due to the scattered electrons

1. S. D. Kevan, ed., Angle-Resolved Photoemission: Theory and Current Applications, Amsterdam; Elsevier 2. Andrea Damascelli, Probing the Electronic Structure of Complex Systems by ARPES, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of British Columbia, 6224 Agricultural Road, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1, Canada 3. The Quantum Spin Hall Effect and Topological Insulators by Xiao-Liang Qi and ShouCheng Zhang