Tailoring magnetic orders in topological insulators is critical to the realization of topological quantum phenomena. An outstanding challenge is to find a material where atomic defects lead to tunable magnetic orders while maintaining a nontrivial topology. Here, by combining magnetization measurements, angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, and transmission electron microscopy, we reveal disorder-enabled, tunable magnetic ground states in MnBi6Te10. In the ferromagnetic phase, an energy gap of 15 meV is resolved at the Dirac point on the MnBi2Te4 termination. In contrast, antiferromagnetic MnBi6Te10 exhibits gapless topological surface states on all terminations. Transmission electron microscopy and magnetization measurements reveal substantial Mn vacancies and Mn migration in ferromagnetic MnBi6Te10. We provide a conceptual framework where a cooperative interplay of these defects drives a delicate change of overall magnetic ground state energies and leads to tunable magnetic topological orders. Our work provides a clear pathway for nanoscale defect-engineering toward the realization of topological quantum phases.
Keywords: MnBi6Te10; antiferromagnetism; defects; ferromagnetism; magnetic topological insulator.