Colorado State University
Nontrivial Nature and Penetration Depth of Topological Surface States in SmB6 Thin Films
Being the first rare earth mixed valence system and the first Kondo insulator, SmB6 may very likely be the first topological Kondo insulator too. Recent studies have confirmed the existence of topological surface states (TSS) and surface chiral spin textures in single-crystal SmB6 bulk materials, but the nontrivial nature and depth scale of the TSS remain unresolved. In this talk I will report our recent work on the use of spin pumping to study the nontrivial feature of the TSS in SmB6. Our experiments used SmB6 thin films grown on magnetic insulator Y3Fe5O12 (YIG) bulk materials. Upon the excitation of magnetization precession in the YIG, a pure spin current is generated that flows from the YIG into the SmB6 film and produces, via spin-orbit coupling, a lateral electrical voltage in the SmB6 film. The spin-pumping voltage signal becomes considerably stronger as the temperature decreases from 150 K to 10 K. Such an enhancement most likely originates from the spin-momentum locking feature of the TSS of the SmB6 film and may thereby serve as a strong evidence for the nontrivial nature of the TSS. The voltage data also show a unique film thickness dependence that suggests a TSS depth of about 32 nm for the TSS. The data also indicate a spin diffusion length of about 39 nm in the SmB6 film. The spin-pumping results are supported by temperature-dependent transport measurements and theoretical analyses using a tight binding model.