Recent work has extended topological band theory to open, non-Hermitian Hamiltonians, yet little is understood about how non-Hermiticity alters the topological quantization of associated observables. We address this problem by studying the quantum anomalous Hall effect (QAHE) generated in the Dirac surface states of a three-dimensional time-reversal-invariant topological insulator (TI) that is proximity coupled to a metallic ferromagnet. By constructing a contact self-energy for the ferromagnet, we show that in addition to generating a mass gap in the surface spectrum, the ferromagnet can introduce a non-Hermitian broadening term, which can obscure the mass gap in the spectral function. We calculate the Hall conductivity for the effective non-Hermitian Hamiltonian describing the heterostructure and show that it is no longer quantized despite being classified as a Chern insulator based on non-Hermitian topological band theory. Our results indicate that the QAHE will be challenging to experimentally observe in ferromagnet-TI heterostructures due to the finite lifetime of quasiparticles at the interface.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics