Quantum anomalous Hall effect in intrinsic magnetic topological insulator MnBi2Te4

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Science  21 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6480, pp. 895-900
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax8156

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Quantum anomalous Hall goes intrinsic

Quantum anomalous Hall effect—the appearance of quantized Hall conductance at zero magnetic field—has been observed in thin films of the topological insulator Bi2Se3 doped with magnetic atoms. The doping, however, introduces inhomogeneity, reducing the temperature at which the effect occurs. Two groups have now observed quantum anomalous Hall effect in intrinsically magnetic materials (see the Perspective by Wakefield and Checkelsky). Serlin et al. did so in twisted bilayer graphene aligned to hexagonal boron nitride, where the effect enabled the switching of magnetization with tiny currents. In a complementary work, Deng et al. observed quantum anomalous Hall effect in the antiferromagnetic layered topological insulator MnBi2Te4.

Science, this issue p. 900, p. 895; see also p. 848


In a magnetic topological insulator, nontrivial band topology combines with magnetic order to produce exotic states of matter, such as quantum anomalous Hall (QAH) insulators and axion insulators. In this work, we probe quantum transport in MnBi2Te4 thin flakes—a topological insulator with intrinsic magnetic order. In this layered van der Waals crystal, the ferromagnetic layers couple antiparallel to each other; atomically thin MnBi2Te4, however, becomes ferromagnetic when the sample has an odd number of septuple layers. We observe a zero-field QAH effect in a five–septuple-layer specimen at 1.4 kelvin, and an external magnetic field further raises the quantization temperature to 6.5 kelvin by aligning all layers ferromagnetically. The results establish MnBi2Te4 as an ideal arena for further exploring various topological phenomena with a spontaneously broken time-reversal symmetry.

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