Majorana spin in magnetic atomic chain systems

Jian Li, Sangjun Jeon, Yonglong Xie, Ali Yazdani, B. Andrei Bernevig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper, we establish that Majorana zero modes emerging from a topological band structure of a chain of magnetic atoms embedded in a superconductor can be distinguished from trivial localized zero energy states that may accidentally form in this system using spin-resolved measurements. To demonstrate this key Majorana diagnostics, we study the spin composition of magnetic impurity induced in-gap Shiba states in a superconductor using a hybrid model. By examining the spin and spectral densities in the context of the Bogoliubov-de Gennes (BdG) particle-hole symmetry, we derive a sum rule that relates the spin densities of localized Shiba states with those in the normal state without superconductivity. Extending our investigations to a ferromagnetic chain of magnetic impurities, we identify key features of the spin properties of the extended Shiba state bands, as well as those associated with a localized Majorana end mode when the effect of spin-orbit interaction is included. We then formulate a phenomenological theory for the measurement of the local spin densities with spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) techniques. By combining the calculated spin densities and the measurement theory, we show that spin-polarized STM measurements can reveal a sharp contrast in spin polarization between an accidental-zero-energy trivial Shiba state and a Majorana zero mode in a topological superconducting phase in atomic chains. We further confirm our results with numerical simulations that address generic parameter settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125119
JournalPhysical Review B
Volume97
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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