Ames Laboratory; Physics and Astronomy
Physics and Astronomy, Ames Laboratory
Following the recent isolation of monolayer CrI3 (ref. 1), many more two-dimensional van der Waals magnetic materials have been isolated2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12. Their incorporation in van der Waals heterostructures offers a new platform for spintronics5,6,7,8,9, proximity magnetism13 and quantum spin liquids14. A primary question in this field is how exfoliating crystals to the few-layer limit influences their magnetism. Studies of CrI3 have shown a different magnetic ground state for ultrathin exfoliated films1,5,6 compared with the bulk, but the origin is not yet understood. Here, we use electron tunnelling through few-layer crystals of the layered antiferromagnetic insulator CrCl3 to probe its magnetic order and find a tenfold enhancement of the interlayer exchange compared with bulk crystals. Moreover, temperature- and polarization-dependent Raman spectroscopy reveals that the crystallographic phase transition of bulk crystals does not occur in exfoliated films. This results in a different low-temperature stacking order and, we hypothesize, increased interlayer exchange. Our study provides insight into the connection between stacking order and interlayer interactions in two-dimensional magnets, which may be relevant for correlating stacking faults and mechanical deformations with the magnetic ground states of other more exotic layered magnets such as RuCl3 (ref. 14).
DOE Contract Number(s)
GBMF4541; SC0018935; DMR-1231319; W911NF-14-0247; AC02-07CH11358
Iowa State University Digital Repository, Ames IA (United States)