Topological surface-states can acquire an energy gap when time-reversal symmetry is broken by interfacing with a magnetic insulator. This gap has yet to be measured. Such topological-magnetic insulator heterostructures can host a quantized anomalous Hall effect and can allow the control of the magnetic state of the insulator in a spintronic device. In this work, we observe the energy gap of topological surface-states in proximity to a magnetic insulator using magnetooptical Landau level spectroscopy. We measure Pb1-xSnxSe–EuSe heterostructures grown by molecular beam epitaxy exhibiting a record mobility and low Fermi energy. Through temperature dependent measurements and theoretical calculations, we show this gap is likely due to quantum confinement and conclude that the magnetic proximity effect is weak in this system. This weakness is disadvantageous for the realization of the quantum anomalous Hall effect, but favorable for spintronic devices which require the preservation of spin-momentum locking at the Fermi level.
A key feature of the topological surface state under a magnetic field is the presence of the zeroth Landau level at the zero energy. Nonetheless, it is challenging to probe the zeroth Landau level due to large electron–hole puddles smearing its energy landscape. Here, by developing ultra‐low‐carrier density topological insulator Sb2Te3films, an extreme quantum limit of the topological surface state is reached and a hidden phase at the zeroth Landau level is uncovered. First, an unexpected quantum‐Hall‐to‐insulator‐transition near the zeroth Landau level is discovered. Then, through a detailed scaling analysis, it is found that this quantum‐Hall‐to‐insulator‐transition belongs to a new universality class, implying that the insulating phase discovered here has a fundamentally different origin from those in nontopological systems.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Advanced Materials
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Since the notion of topological insulator (TI) was envisioned in late 2000s, topology has become a new paradigm in condensed matter physics. Realization of topology as a generic property of materials has led to numerous predictions of topological effects. Although most of the classical topological effects, directly resulting from the presence of the spin-momentum-locked topological surface states (TSS), were experimentally confirmed soon after the theoretical prediction of TIs, many topological quantum effects remained elusive for a long while. It turns out that native defects, particularly interfacial defects, have been the main culprit behind this impasse. Even after quantum regime is achieved for the bulk states, TSS still tends to remain in the classical regime due to high density of interfacial defects, which frequently donate mobile carriers due to the very nature of the topologically-protected surface states. However, with several defect engineering schemes that suppress these effects, a series of topological quantum effects have emerged including quantum anomalous Hall effect, quantum Hall effect, quantized Faraday/Kerr rotations, topological quantum phase transitions, axion insulating state, zeroth-Landau level state, etc. Here, we review how these defect engineering schemes have allowed topological surface states to pull out of the murky classical regime and reveal their elusive quantum signatures, over the past decade.more » « less
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