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We have identified epitaxially grown elemental Te as a capping material that is suited to protect the topological surface states of intrinsically insulating BiTe. By using angle-resolved photoemission, we were able to show that the Te overlayer leaves the dispersive bands of the surface states intact and that it does not alter the chemical potential of the BiTe thin film. From four-point contact measurements, we observed that the conductivity of the capped film is still mainly determined by the metallic surface states and that the contribution of the capping layer is minor. Moreover, the Te overlayer can be annealed away in vacuum to produce a clean BiTe surface in its pristine state even after the exposure of the capped film to air. Our findings will facilitate well-defined and reliable experiments on the properties of BiTe surface states with nontrivial topology.


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