The transition-metal tetrachalcogenides are a model system to explore the conjunction of correlated electronic states such as charge density waves (CDWs) with topological phases of matter. Understanding the connection between these phases requires a thorough understanding of the individual states, which for the case of the CDW in this system, is still missing. In this paper we combine phonon-structure calculations and scanning tunneling microscopy measurements of NbTe4 in order to provide a full characterization of the CDW state. We find that, at short range, the superstructure formed by the CDW is fully commensurate with the lattice parameters. Moreover, our data reveals the presence of phase-slip domain walls separating regions of commensurate CDWs in the nanoscale, indicating that the CDW in this compound is discommensurate at long range. Our results solve a long-standing discussion about the nature of the CDW in these materials and provide a strong basis for the study of the interplay between this state and other novel quantum electronic states.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics