Experimentelle Physik IV

    Abdul-Vakhab Tcakaev (PhD thesis): Soft X-ray Spectroscopic Study of Electronic and Magnetic Properties of Magnetic Topological Insulators

    After the discovery of three-dimensional topological insulators (TIs), such as tetradymite chalcogenides Bi2Se3, Bi2Te3 and Sb2Te3 – a new class of quantum materials characterized by their unique surface electronic properties – the solid state community got focused on topological states that are driven by strong electronic correlations and magnetism. An important material class is the magnetic TI (MTI) exhibiting the quantum anomalous Hall (QAH) effect, i.e. a dissipationless quantized edge-state transport in the absence of external magnetic field, originating from the interplay between ferromagnetism and a topologically non-trivial band structure. The unprecedented opportunities offered by these new exotic materials open a new avenue for the development of low-dissipation electronics, spintronics, and quantum computation. However, the major concern with QAH effect is its extremely low onset temperature, limiting its practical application. To resolve this problem, a comprehensive understanding of the microscopic origin of the underlying ferromagnetism is necessary. V- and Cr-doped (Bi,Sb)2Te3 are the two prototypical systems that have been widely studied as realizations of the QAH state. Finding microscopic differences between the strongly correlated V and Cr impurities would help finding a relevant model of ferromagnetic coupling and eventually provide better control of the QAH effect in these systems. Therefore, this thesis first focuses on the V- and Cr-doped (Bi,Sb)2Te3 systems, to better understand these differences. Exploiting the unique capabilities of x-ray absorption spectroscopy and magnetic circular dichroism (XAS/XMCD), combined with advanced modeling based on multiplet ligand-field theory (MLFT), we provide a detailed microscopic insight into the local electronic and magnetic properties of these systems and determine microscopic parameters crucial for the comparison with theoretical models, which include the d-shell filling, spin and orbital magnetic moments. We find a strongly covalent ground state, dominated by the superposition of one and two Te-ligand-hole configurations, with a negligible contribution from a purely ionic 3+ configuration. Our findings indicate the importance of the Te 5p states for the ferromagnetism in (Bi, Sb)2Te3 and favor magnetic coupling mechanisms involving pd-exchange. Using state-of-the-art density functional theory (DFT) calculations in combination with XMCD and resonant photoelectron spectroscopy (resPES), we reveal the important role of the 3d impurity states in mediating magnetic exchange coupling. Our calculations illustrate that the kind and strength of the exchange coupling varies with the impurity 3d-shell occupation. We find a weakening of ferromagnetic properties upon the increase of doping concentration, as well as with the substitution of Bi at the Sb site. Finally, we qualitatively describe the origin of the induced magnetic moments at the Te and Sb sites in the host lattice and discuss their role in mediating a robust ferromagnetism based on a pd-exchange interaction scenario. Our findings reveal important clues to designing higher TC MTIs. Rare-earth ions typically exhibit larger magnetic moments than transition-metal ions and thus promise the opening of a wider exchange gap in the Dirac surface states of TIs, which is favorable for the realization of the high-temperature QAH effect. Therefore, we have further focused on Eu-doped Bi2Te3 and scrutinized whether the conditions for formation of a substantial gap in this system are present by combining spectroscopic and bulk characterization methods with theoretical calculations. For all studied Eu doping concentrations, our atomic multiplet analysis of the M4,5 x-ray absorption and magnetic circular dichroism spectra reveals a Eu2+ valence, unlike most other rare earth elements, and confirms a large magnetic moment. At temperatures below 10 K, bulk magnetometry indicates the onset of antiferromagnetic ordering. This is in good agreement with DFT results, which predict AFM interactions between the Eu impurities due to the direct overlap of the impurity wave functions. Our results support the notion of antiferromagnetism coexisting with topological surface states in rare-earth doped Bi2Te3 and corroborate the potential of such doping to result in an antiferromagnetic TI with exotic quantum properties. The doping with impurities introduces disorder detrimental for the QAH effect, which may be avoided in stoichiometric, well-ordered magnetic compounds. In the last part of the thesis we have investigated the recently discovered intrinsic magnetic TI (IMTI) MnBi6Te10, where we have uncovered robust ferromagnetism with TC ≈ 12 K and connected its origin to the Mn/Bi intermixing. Our measurements reveal a magnetically intact surface with a large moment, and with FM properties similar to the bulk, which makes MnBi6Te10 a promising candidate for the QAH effect at elevated temperatures. Moreover, using an advanced ab initio MLFT approach we have determined the groundstate properties of Mn and revealed a predominant contribution of the d5 configuration to the ground state, resulting in a d-shell electron occupation nd = 5.31 and a large magnetic moment, in excellent agreement with our DFT calculations and the bulk magnetometry data. Our results together with first principle calculations based on the DFT-GGA+U, performed by our collaborators, suggest that carefully engineered intermixing plays a crucial role in achieving a robust long-range FM order and therefore could be the key for achieving enhanced QAH effect properties. We expect our findings to aid better understanding of MTIs, which is essential to help increasing the temperature of the QAH effect, thus facilitating the realization of lowpower electronics in the future.