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Topological magneto-optical effects and their quantization in non-coplanar antiferromagnets

W. Feng, J.-P. Hanke, X. Zhou, G.-Y. Guo, S. Blügel, Y. Mokrousov, Y. Yao

Nature Communications 11, 118 (2020)

Reflecting the fundamental interactions of polarized light with magnetic matter, magneto-optical effects are well known since more than a century. The emergence of these phenomena is commonly attributed to the interplay between exchange splitting and spin-orbit coupling in the electronic structure of magnets. Using theoretical arguments, we demonstrate that topological magneto-optical effects can arise in noncoplanar antiferromagnets due to the finite scalar spin chirality, without any reference to exchange splitting or spin-orbit coupling. We propose spectral integrals of certain magneto-optical quantities that uncover the unique topological nature of the discovered effect. We also find that the Kerr and Faraday rotation angles can be quantized in insulating topological antiferromagnets in the low-frequency limit, owing to nontrivial global properties that manifest in quantum topological magneto-optical effects. Although the predicted topological and quantum topological magneto-optical effects are fundamentally distinct from conventional light-matter interactions, they can be measured by readily available experimental techniques.


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