skip to main content


Title: Visualizing the interplay of Dirac mass gap and magnetism at nanoscale in intrinsic magnetic topological insulators
In intrinsic magnetic topological insulators, Dirac surface-state gaps are prerequisites for quantum anomalous Hall and axion insulating states. Unambiguous experimental identification of these gaps has proved to be a challenge, however. Here, we use molecular beam epitaxy to grow intrinsic MnBi 2 Te 4 thin films. Using scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy, we directly visualize the Dirac mass gap and its disappearance below and above the magnetic order temperature. We further reveal the interplay of Dirac mass gaps and local magnetic defects. We find that, in high defect regions, the Dirac mass gap collapses. Ab initio and coupled Dirac cone model calculations provide insight into the microscopic origin of the correlation between defect density and spatial gap variations. This work provides unambiguous identification of the Dirac mass gap in MnBi 2 Te 4 and, by revealing the microscopic origin of its gap variation, establishes a material design principle for realizing exotic states in intrinsic magnetic topological insulators.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2219610
NSF-PAR ID:
10454818
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume:
119
Issue:
42
ISSN:
0027-8424
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The intrinsic magnetic topological insulator, Mn(Bi1−xSbx)2Te4, has been identified as a Weyl semimetal with a single pair of Weyl nodes in its spin-aligned strong-field configuration. A direct consequence of the Weyl state is the layer dependent Chern number,$$C$$C. Previous reports in MnBi2Te4thin films have shown higher$$C$$Cstates either by increasing the film thickness or controlling the chemical potential. A clear picture of the higher Chern states is still lacking as data interpretation is further complicated by the emergence of surface-band Landau levels under magnetic fields. Here, we report a tunable layer-dependent$$C$$C = 1 state with Sb substitution by performing a detailed analysis of the quantization states in Mn(Bi1−xSbx)2Te4dual-gated devices—consistent with calculations of the bulk Weyl point separation in the doped thin films. The observed Hall quantization plateaus for our thicker Mn(Bi1−xSbx)2Te4films under strong magnetic fields can be interpreted by a theory of surface and bulk spin-polarised Landau level spectra in thin film magnetic topological insulators.

     
    more » « less
  2. In this work, we investigate magnetic monolayers of the form A i A ii B 4 X 8 based on the well-known intrinsic topological magnetic van der Waals (vdW) material MnBi 2 Te 4 (MBT) using first-principles calculations and machine learning techniques. We select an initial subset of structures to calculate the thermodynamic properties, electronic properties, such as the band gap, and magnetic properties, such as the magnetic moment and magnetic order using density functional theory (DFT). Data analytics approaches are used to gain insight into the microscopic origin of materials’ properties. The dependence of materials’ properties on chemical composition is also explored. For example, we find that the formation energy and magnetic moment depend largely on A and B sites whereas the band gap depends on all three sites. Finally, we employ machine learning tools to accelerate the search for novel vdW magnets in the MBT family with optimized properties. This study creates avenues for rapidly predicting novel materials with desirable properties that could enable applications in spintronics, optoelectronics, and quantum computing. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The interplay between band topology and magnetism can give rise to exotic states of matter. For example, magnetically doped topological insulators can realize a Chern insulator that exhibits quantized Hall resistance at zero magnetic field. While prior works have focused on ferromagnetic systems, little is known about band topology and its manipulation in antiferromagnets. Here, we report that MnBi2Te4is a rare platform for realizing a canted-antiferromagnetic (cAFM) Chern insulator with electrical control. We show that the Chern insulator state with Chern numberC = 1 appears as the AFM to canted-AFM phase transition happens. The Chern insulator state is further confirmed by observing the unusual transition of theC = 1 state in the cAFM phase to theC = 2 orbital quantum Hall states in the magnetic field induced ferromagnetic phase. Near the cAFM-AFM phase boundary, we show that the dissipationless chiral edge transport can be toggled on and off by applying an electric field alone. We attribute this switching effect to the electrical field tuning of the exchange gap alignment between the top and bottom surfaces. Our work paves the way for future studies on topological cAFM spintronics and facilitates the development of proof-of-concept Chern insulator devices.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Magnetism in topological materials creates phases exhibiting quantized transport phenomena with potential technological applications. The emergence of such phases relies on strong interaction between localized spins and the topological bands, and the consequent formation of an exchange gap. However, this remains experimentally unquantified in intrinsic magnetic topological materials. Here, this interaction is quantified in MnBi2Te4, a topological insulator with intrinsic antiferromagnetism. This is achieved by optically exciting Bi‐Te p states comprising the bulk topological bands and interrogating the consequent Mn 3d spin dynamics, using a multimodal ultrafast approach. Ultrafast electron scattering and magneto‐optic measurements show that the p states demagnetize via electron‐phonon scattering at picosecond timescales. Despite being energetically decoupled from the optical excitation, the Mn 3d spins, probed by resonant X‐ray scattering, are observed to disorder concurrently with the p spins. Together with atomistic simulations, this reveals that the exchange coupling between localized spins and the topological bands is at least 100 times larger than the superexchange interaction, implying an optimal exchange gap of at least 25 meV in the surface states. By quantifying this exchange coupling, this study validates the materials‐by‐design strategy of utilizing localized magnetic order to manipulate topological phases, spanning static to ultrafast timescales.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Nonlinear photocurrent in time-reversal invariant noncentrosymmetric systems such as ferroelectric semimetals sparked tremendous interest of utilizing nonlinear optics to characterize condensed matter with exotic phases. Here we provide a microscopic theory of two types of second-order nonlinear direct photocurrents, magnetic shift photocurrent (MSC) and magnetic injection photocurrent (MIC), as the counterparts of normal shift current (NSC) and normal injection current (NIC) in time-reversal symmetry and inversion symmetry broken systems. We show that MSC is mainly governed by shift vector and interband Berry curvature, and MIC is dominated by absorption strength and asymmetry of the group velocity difference at time-reversed ±kpoints. Taking$${\cal{P}}{\cal{T}}$$PT-symmetric magnetic topological quantum material bilayer antiferromagnetic (AFM) MnBi2Te4as an example, we predict the presence of large MIC in the terahertz (THz) frequency regime which can be switched between two AFM states with time-reversed spin orderings upon magnetic transition. In addition, external electric field breaks$${\cal{P}}{\cal{T}}$$PTsymmetry and enables large NSC response in bilayer AFM MnBi2Te4, which can be switched by external electric field. Remarkably, both MIC and NSC are highly tunable under varying electric field due to the field-induced large Rashba and Zeeman splitting, resulting in large nonlinear photocurrent response down to a few THz regime, suggesting bilayer AFM-zMnBi2Te4as a tunable platform with rich THz and magneto-optoelectronic applications. Our results reveal that nonlinear photocurrent responses governed by NSC, NIC, MSC, and MIC provide a powerful tool for deciphering magnetic structures and interactions which could be particularly fruitful for probing and understanding magnetic topological quantum materials.

     
    more » « less