Spontaneous Hall effect enhanced by local Ir moments in epitaxial Pr2Ir2O7 thin films


Rare-earth pyrochlore iridates (RE2Ir2O7) consist of two interpenetrating cation sublattices, the RE with highly frustrated magnetic moments, and the iridium with extended conduction orbitals significantly mixed by spin-orbit interactions. The coexistence and coupling of these two sublattices create a landscape for discovery and manipulation of quantum phenomena such as the topological Hall effect, massless conduction bands, and quantum criticality. Thin films allow extended control of the material system via symmetry-lowering effects such as strain. While bulk Pr2Ir2O7 shows a spontaneous hysteretic Hall effect below 1.5 K, we observe the effect at elevated temperatures up to 15 K in epitaxial thin films on (111) yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) substrates synthesized via solid-phase epitaxy. Similar to the bulk, the lack of observable long-range magnetic order in the thin films points to a topological origin. We use synchrotron-based element-specific x-ray diffraction and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism to compare powders and thin films to attribute the spontaneous Hall effect in the films to localization of the Ir moments. We link the thin-film Ir local moments to lattice distortions absent in the bulklike powders. We conclude that the elevated-Temperature spontaneous Hall effect is caused by the topological effect originating either from the Ir or Pr sublattice, with interaction strength enhanced by the Ir local moments. This spontaneous Hall effect with weak net moment highlights the effect of vanishingly small lattice distortions as a means to discover topological phenomena in metallic frustrated magnetic materials.

Phys. Rev. B
Tianxiang Nan
Tianxiang Nan
Assistant Professor