Charge transport properties of spin-orbit coupled materials in different correlation regimes

From recent advances in solid state physics, a novel material classification scheme has evolved which is based on the concept of topology and provides an understanding of different phenomena ranging from quantum transport to unusual flavors of superconductivity. Spin-orbit coupling is a major term in defining the topology of materials, and its interplay with electron electron correlations yields novel, intriguing phenomena. In the weak to intermediate correlation regime, spin-orbital entanglement leads to the emergence of topological insulators, which constitute Dirac materials with 2D spin-polarized helical edge or surface states and an insulating bulk. In the specific case of topological insulators, theory predicts that their unique band structure leads to a high thermoelectric performance, which is of practical relevance for energy conversion applications.In the strong correlation regime, the spin-orbit coupling removes the orbital degeneracy, thereby enhancing quantum fluctuations of the spin-orbit entangled states. This in turn can lead to the emergence of novel phases such as quantum spin liquids and unconventional superconductivity. The Kitaev quantum spin liquid (QSL) is a topological state of matter that exhibits fractionalized excitations in the form of Majorana fermions. The main aim of this thesis was to study these novel states of matter in the form of two different materials that fall in the weak and strong correlation regime, respectively. On this basis, it should furthermore be explored whether benefit can be taken of their properties by combining them with other quantum materials into heterostructures.In the first part of this thesis, nanoplatelets of bismuth chalcogenide-based 3D topological insulators were grown by chemical vapor deposition, and characterized by magnetotransport experiments. Having established charge transport characteristics of the single components, in the aim to exploit their high thermoelectric efficiency, the lateral heteroctructures of them are fabricated. Their investigation by scanning photocurrent microscopy revealed strong photocurrent generation at the p-n junction. The obtained results demonstrate that such type of hybrid heterostructure is a promising route to enhance the thermoelectric performance in nanostructured devices. In the second part of this thesis, the Kitaev spin liquid candidate, RuCl3 was studied. Raman spectroscopy on exfoliated RuCl3 revealed a broad magnetic continuumat low energies which according to its particular deviation from bosonic character is assigned to the fractionalized excitations. Furthermore, in complementary charge transport experiments, it was found that themagnetic fluctuations and structural changes in thismaterial are highly entangled, and influence the emergence of the fractionalized excitations. Finally, it was investigated whether the magnetic insulator character of ®-RuCl3 can be exploited to alter the graphene band structure through a proximity effect in vertical graphene/ RuCl3 heterostructures. Measurements of their low-temperature, nonlocal resistance confirmed the possibility to induce pure spin currents in this manner. At the same time, the charge transport through the graphene served as a probe of the magnetic ordering in RuCl3, although the complex magnetic behavior in this material necessitates more studies.

Kern, Klaus
Burghard, Marko
Lausanne, EPFL

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 Record created 2018-07-10, last modified 2019-05-09

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