Heusler Types
Heusler Types

Heusler Alloys

The Heusler compounds are an exciting class of intermetallics due to their ability to adopt a wide range of tunable electrical and magnetic properties, including metallicity, half-metallic ferromagnetism, superconductivity, and narrow and wide bandgap semiconducting behavior with large thermoelectric power factors. Additionally, some of the Heuslers are predicted to be topological insulators and Weyl Semi-metals, making this family a candidate system for creating multifunctional topological heterostructures and exploring the new physics that emerges at their interfaces.

Helical spin texture in PtLuSb surface states
Helical spin texture in PtLuSb surface states

Topologically Non-Trivial Heuslers

Recently Heuslers have been essential to the study of topologically significant materials due to their tunability. By substitution, different hybridization, spin-orbit coupling strength, and symmetries may be explored. This serves as an interesting testbed of the physics underlying these topological phases (such as topological insulators and Weyl semimetals). These properties can then be enhanced for novel control of material properties for future device structures. 

We grow never before synthesized materials and characterize them extensively via our suite of in-situ techniques. During growth and post-processing we tailor these properties by epitaxial strain, doping, electrostatic gating, and symmetry. Our vacuum suitcase allows us to bring surface sensitive materials to ARPES beamlines to fully study their topology.  

Relevant Publications

Observation of a topologically non-trivial surface state in half-Heusler PtLuSb (001) thin films

Growth, structural, and magnetic properties of single-crystal full-Heusler Co2TiGe thin films

Slater-Pauling Rule
Slater-Pauling Rule

Magnetic Heuslers

Heusler intermetallics show magnetic phases (ferromagnetic, antiferromagnetic, fully compensated ferrimagnetism) that the constituent atoms cannot. The alloys usually follow the Slater-Pauling rule, where the total valence electrons per formula unit directly predicts the spin magnetic moment per formula unit. Heusler alloys also form a prominent class of half-metals (where one spin channel is conducting and the other insulating/semiconducting) and spin-gapless semiconductors. These properties are retained at remarkably high temperatures, and thus Heuslers are being investigated for a variety of spintronic applications.

Relevant Publications

Epitaxial Heusler superlattice Co2MnAl/Fe2MnAl with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy and termination-dependent half-metallicity

Oxygen migration in epitaxial CoFe/MgO/Co2MnSi magnetic tunnel junctions

Low magnetic damping and large negative anisotropic magnetoresistance in half-metallic Co2−xMn1+xSi Heusler alloy films grown by molecular beam epitaxy

HRXRD of semiconducting Heusler
HRXRD of semiconducting Heusler

Semiconducting Heuslers

A not so obvious feature of half-Heusler alloys is that those containing either 8 or 18 valence electrons per primitive unit cell tend to be semiconductors despite being composed of metallic elements. These closed shell electron arrangements (eg. d10 + s2 + p6 = 18) enable a semiconducting gap to open between the bonding and antibonding states. The rule of 18 allows for covalent hybridization of the transition elements; however, the Z element plays a critical role in not only supporting the hybridized bonding with the transition metals but in accommodating the extra d electrons necessary to stabilize the system. The small band gap semiconducting nature of the half-Heuslers and the vast compositional variations that are possible has spawned a great deal of interest in exploiting these material properties for thermoelectrics and infrared communication. Alloying these materials allows for studies of the metal-to-insulator transition.

Relevant Publications

Electronic structure of epitaxial half-Heusler Co1-xNixTiSb across the semiconductor to metal transition

Surface Reconstructions of Heusler Compounds in the Ni-Ti-Sn (001) System

Affiliated Researchers