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Stacking Faults and Topological Properties in MnBi2Te4: Reconciling Gapped and Gapless States

by Jeonghwan Ahn, Seounghun Kang, Mina Yoon, Panchapakesan Ganesh, Jaron T Krogel
Publication Type
Journal Name
The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Publication Date
Page Numbers
9052 to 9059

Despite theoretical predictions of a gapped surface state for the magnetic topological insulator MnBi2Te4 (MBT), there has been a series of experimental evidence pointing toward gapless states. Here, we theoretically explore how stacking faults could influence the topological characteristics of MBT. We envisage a scenario that a stacking fault exists at the surface of MBT, causing the uppermost layer to deviate from the ground state and its interlayer separation to be expanded. This stacking fault with modulated interlayer couplings hosts a nearly gapless state within the topmost layer due to charge redistribution as the outermost layer recedes. Furthermore, we find evidence of spin-momentum locking and preservation of weak band inversion in the gapless surface state, suggesting the nontrivial topological surface states in the presence of the stacking fault. Our findings provide a plausible elucidation to the long-standing conundrum of reconciling the observation of gapped and gapless states on MBT surfaces.