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Title: Transition-metal doped Bi2Se3 and Bi2Te3 topological insulator thin films
Author: Collins-McIntyre, Liam James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 4298
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Topological insulators (TIs) are recently predicted, and much studied, new quantum materials. These materials are characterised by their unique surface electronic properties; namely, behaving as band insulators within their bulk, but with spin-momentum locked surface or edge states at their interface. These surface/edge crossing states are protected by the underlying time-reversal symmetry (TRS) of the bulk band structure, leading to a robust topological surface state (TSS) that is resistant to scattering from impurities which do not break TRS. Their surface band dispersion has a characteristic crossing at time reversal invariant momenta (TRIM) called a Dirac cone. It has been predicted that the introduction of a TRS breaking effect, through ferromagnetic order for instance, will open a band-gap in this Dirac cone. It can be seen that magnetic fields are not time reversal invariant by considering a solenoid. If time is reversed, the current will also reverse in the solenoid and so the magnetic field will also be reversed. So it can be seen that magnetic fields transform as odd under time reversal, the same will be true of internal magnetisation. By manipulating this gapped surface state a wide range of new physical phenomena are predicted, or in some cases, already experimentally observed. Of particular interest is the recently observed quantum anomalous Hall effect (QAHE) as well as, e.g., topological magneto-electric effect, surface Majorana Fermions and image magnetic monopoles. Building on these novel physical effects, it is hoped to open new pathways and device applications within the emerging fields of spintronics and quantum computation. This thesis presents an investigation of the nature of magnetic doping of the chalcogenide TIs Bi2Se3 and Bi2Te3 using 3d transition-metal dopants (Mn and Cr). Samples were grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), an ideal growth method for the creation of high-quality thin film TI samples with very low defect densities. The grown films were investigated using a range of complementary lab-based and synchrotron-based techniques to fully resolve their physical structure, as well as their magnetic and electronic properties. The ultimate aim being to form a ferromagnetic ground state in the insulating material, which may be expanded into device applications. Samples of bulk Mn-doped Bi2Te3 are presented and it is shown that a ferromagnetic ground state is formed below a measured TC of 9-13 K as determined by a range of experimental methodologies. These samples are found to have significant inhomogeneities within the crystal, a problem that is reduced in MBE-grown crystals. Mn-doped Bi2Se3 thin films were grown by MBE and their magnetic properties investigated by superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometry and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD). These reveal a saturation magnetisation of 5.1 μB/Mn and show the formation of short-range magnetic order at 2.5 K (from XMCD) with indication of a ferromagnetic ground state forming below 1.5 K. Thin films of Cr-doped Bi2Se3 were grown by MBE, driven by the recent observation of the QAHE in Cr-doped (Bi1−xSbx)2Te3. Investigation by SQUID shows a ferromagnetic ground state below 8.5 K with a saturation magnetisation of 2.1 μB/Cr. Polarised neutron reflectometry shows a uniform magnetisation profile with no indication of surface enhancement or of a magnetic dead layer. Further studies by extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) and XMCD elucidate the electronic nature of the magnetic ground state of these materials. It is found that hybridisation between the Cr d and Se p orbitals leads to the Cr being divalent when doping on the Bi3+ site. This covalent character to the electronic structure runs counter to the previously held belief that divalent Cr would originate from Cr clusters within the van der Waals gap of this material. The work overall demonstrates the formation of a ferromagnetic ground state for both Cr and Mn doped material. The transition temperature, below which ferromagnetic order is achieved, is currently too low for usable device applications. However, these materials provide a promising test bed for new physics and prototype devices.
Supervisor: Hesjedal, Thorsten Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Physical Sciences ; Advanced materials ; Semiconductor devices ; Condensed Matter Physics ; magnetism ; topological insulators ; spintronics ; topology