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Title: Topological properties of SnTe and Fe3Sn2
Author: O'Neill, Christopher David
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 4293
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2016
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The aim of this thesis was to identify topologically protected states in the materials SnTe and Fe3Sn2. Such states are currently receiving a large amount of interest due to their applications for spintronic devices. Recently SnTe was discovered to be a crystalline topological insulator, a state of matter where its surface is highly conducting while the bulk remains insulating. However detection of these surface states is difficult using transport measurements, since the bulk is not totally insulating but still contains a large number of free carriers. SnTe undergoes a rhombohedral structural distortion on cooling caused by a soft transverse optic phonon, with the exact Tc strongly dependent on the carrier concentration. The distortion acts to lower crystal symmetry removing some of the symmetries that protect the surface state. Single crystal samples displaying the structural transition were grown and investigated using inelastic X-ray scattering to measure the phonon softening previously reported by other authors. The soft phonon was seen to recover again after distortion indicative of a 2nd order ferroelectric transition. This is the first reported discovery of the recovery showing the distortion is ferroelectric in nature. Shubnikov de Haas quantum oscillations were measured to study the Fermi surface under ambient and high hydrostatic pressure conditions. A distortion of the Fermi surface caused by the structural transition was evident, resulting in 4 distinct oscillation frequencies. However at applied pressures above 6 kbar, the transition was suppressed and only 1 oscillation measured. A two component Hall response also becomes apparent under high pressure. The possible origin of this and its relation to possible surface states is discussed. The anomalous Hall effect was also measured in the ferromagnet Fe3Sn2 which has a bilayer Kagome structure. Previous measurements on polycrystalline Fe3Sn2 suggested a non-collinear spin rotation from the spins pointing along the c-axis at high temperature to lying in the a-b plane below 80 K. A spin glass phase is then expected below 80 K. Single crystal magnetisation measurements carried out in this thesis show the spins are in the a-b plane at high temperatures and begin to display a ferromagnetic component along the c-axis approaching 80 K. The difference is accounted for by considering the demagnetising factor in the plate shaped single crystals. For this temperature range an applied field along the c-direction however rotates the moments towards c. At intermediate fields there are strong features evident in both the anomalous Hall effect and magnetoresistance. These features may be due to a topological Hall effect caused by a non-collinear spin structure. The possible existence of Skyrmion excitations was also recently discussed theoretically in Fe3Sn2. Our data is more suggestive of static Skyrmions known to cause topological Hall effects in MnSi.
Supervisor: Huxley, Andrew ; Kamenev, Konstantin Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: topologically protected states ; SnTe ; Fe3Sn2. ; crystalline topological insulators ; Fermi surface ; structural transition ; Hall effect ; Skyrmions