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Nature. 2016 May 26;533(7604):513-6. doi: 10.1038/nature17635. Epub 2016 May 9.

A high-temperature ferromagnetic topological insulating phase by proximity coupling.

Author information

Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
Plasma Science and Fusion Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
Quantum Condensed Matter Division, Neutron Sciences Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, USA.
Institut fuer Theoretische Physik III, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum, D-44801 Bochum, Germany.
Institute for Theoretical Solid State Physics, Institut fuer Festkoerper- und Werkstoffforschung, Dresden, D-01069 Dresden, Germany.
Department of Physics, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
Département de Physique, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University, Paris 75005, France.
Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, 1/AF Bidhannagar, Kolkata 64, India.
Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois 60439, USA.


Topological insulators are insulating materials that display conducting surface states protected by time-reversal symmetry, wherein electron spins are locked to their momentum. This unique property opens up new opportunities for creating next-generation electronic, spintronic and quantum computation devices. Introducing ferromagnetic order into a topological insulator system without compromising its distinctive quantum coherent features could lead to the realization of several predicted physical phenomena. In particular, achieving robust long-range magnetic order at the surface of the topological insulator at specific locations without introducing spin-scattering centres could open up new possibilities for devices. Here we use spin-polarized neutron reflectivity experiments to demonstrate topologically enhanced interface magnetism by coupling a ferromagnetic insulator (EuS) to a topological insulator (Bi2Se3) in a bilayer system. This interfacial ferromagnetism persists up to room temperature, even though the ferromagnetic insulator is known to order ferromagnetically only at low temperatures (<17 K). The magnetism induced at the interface resulting from the large spin-orbit interaction and the spin-momentum locking of the topological insulator surface greatly enhances the magnetic ordering (Curie) temperature of this bilayer system. The ferromagnetism extends ~2 nm into the Bi2Se3 from the interface. Owing to the short-range nature of the ferromagnetic exchange interaction, the time-reversal symmetry is broken only near the surface of a topological insulator, while leaving its bulk states unaffected. The topological magneto-electric response originating in such an engineered topological insulator could allow efficient manipulation of the magnetization dynamics by an electric field, providing an energy-efficient topological control mechanism for future spin-based technologies.


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