Searching for kagome multi-bands and edge states in a predicted organic topological insulator†
Recently, mixed honeycomb–kagome lattices featuring metal–organic networks have been theoretically proposed as topological insulator materials capable of hosting nontrivial edge states. This new family of so-called “organic topological insulators” are purely two-dimensional and combine polyaromatic-flat molecules with metal adatoms. However, their experimental validation is still pending given the generalized absence of edge states. Here, we generate one such proposed network on a Cu(111) substrate and study its morphology and electronic structure with the purpose of confirming its topological properties. The structural techniques reveal a practically flawless network that results in a kagome network multi-band observed by angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and scanning tunneling spectroscopy. However, at the network island borders we notice the absence of edge states. Bond-resolved imaging of the network exhibits an unexpected structural symmetry alteration that explains such disappearance. This collective lifting of the network symmetry could be more general than initially expected and provide a simple explanation for the recurrent experimental absence of edge states in predicted organic topological insulators.