Prediction and observation of an antiferromagnetic topological insulator
Abstract
Magnetic topological insulators are narrowgap semiconductor materials that combine nontrivial band topology and magnetic order^{1}. 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^{1}, such as the quantum anomalous Hall effect^{2} and chiral Majorana fermions^{3}. So far, magnetic topological insulators have only been created by means of doping nonmagnetic topological insulators with 3d transitionmetal elements; however, such an approach leads to strongly inhomogeneous magnetic^{4} and electronic^{5} properties of these materials, restricting the observation of important effects to very low temperatures^{2,3}. 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 MnBi_{2}Te_{4}. The antiferromagnetic ordering that MnBi_{2}Te_{4} shows makes it invariant with respect to the combination of the timereversal and primitivelattice translation symmetries, giving rise to a &Z;_{2} topological classification; &Z;_{2} = 1 for MnBi_{2}Te_{4}, confirming its topologically nontrivial nature. Our experiments indicate that the symmetrybreaking (0001) surface of MnBi_{2}Te_{4} 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^{68} and axion electrodynamics^{9,10}. Other exotic phenomena could become accessible at much higher temperatures than those reached so far, such as the quantum anomalous Hall effect^{2} and chiral Majorana fermions^{3}.
 Publication:

Nature
 Pub Date:
 December 2019
 DOI:
 10.1038/s4158601918409
 arXiv:
 arXiv:1809.07389
 Bibcode:
 2019Natur.576..416O
 Keywords:

 Condensed Matter  Materials Science
 EPrint:
 Nature 576, 416422 (2019)