Dec 20, 2019 | 15:40 / Important events
Magnetic topological insulators are narrow-gap semiconductor materials that combine non-trivial band topology and magnetic order. Unlike their nonmagnetic counterparts, magnetic topological insulators may have some of the surfaces gapped, which enables a number of exotic phenomena that have potential applications in spintronics, such as the quantum anomalous Hall effect and chiral Majorana fermions. So far, magnetic topological insulators have only been created by means of doping nonmagnetic topological insulators with 3d transition-metal elements; however, such an approach leads to strongly inhomogeneous magnetic and electronic properties of these materials, restricting the observation of important effects to very low temperatures. An intrinsic magnetic topological insulator—a stoichiometric well ordered magnetic compound—could be an ideal solution to these problems, but no such material has been observed so far. Here we predict by ab initio calculations and further confirm using various experimental techniques the realization of an antiferromagnetic topological insulator in the layered van der Waals compound MnBi2Te4. The antiferromagnetic ordering that MnBi2Te4 shows makes it invariant with respect to the combination of the time-reversal and primitive-lattice translation symmetries, giving rise to a ℤ2 topological classification; ℤ2 = 1 for MnBi2Te4, confirming its topologically nontrivial nature. Our experiments indicate that the symmetry-breaking (0001) surface of MnBi2Te4 exhibits a large bandgap in the topological surface state. We expect this property to eventually enable the observation of a number of fundamental phenomena, among them quantized magnetoelectric coupling and axion electrodynamics. Other exotic phenomena could become accessible at much higher temperatures than those reached so far, such as the quantum anomalous Hall efect and chiral Majorana fermions.
M. M. Otrokov, I. I. Klimovskikh, H. Bentmann, D. Estyunin, A. Zeugner, Z. S. Aliev, S. Gaß, A. U. B. Wolter, A. V. Koroleva, A. M. Shikin, M. Blanco-Rey, M. Hoffmann, I. P. Rusinov, A. Yu. Vyazovskaya, S. V. Eremeev, Yu. M. Koroteev, V. M. Kuznetsov, F. Freyse, J. Sánchez-Barriga, I. R. Amiraslanov, M. B. Babanly, N. T. Mamedov, N. A. Abdullayev, V. N. Zverev, A. Alfonsov, V. Kataev, B. Büchner, E. F. Schwier, S. Kumar, A. Kimura, L. Petaccia, G. Di Santo, R. C. Vidal, S. Schatz, K. Kißner, M. Ünzelmann, C. H. Min, Simon Moser, T. R. F. Peixoto, F. Reinert, A. Ernst, P. M. Echenique, A. Isaeva & E. V. Chulkov.