Search for new Topological Dirac/Weyl semimetals
The discovery of topological semimetals has attracted enormous interest since they not only possess many unusual exotic properties, but also offer a fertile ground for searching for new fermions in the low energy spectrum. The first established example of a topological state of matter is the quantum Hall effect, which supports a gapless edge state protected by topological invariance. Later the concept of topology has been extended to describe electronic band structure of solid state materials and this effort leads to discoveries of many new topological quantum states, such as Dirac cone state in graphene, quantum spin Hall insulator states in semiconductor quantum wells, 3D topological insulators, etc. The recently discovered Dirac/Weyl semimetals can be viewed as a 3D analog of graphene. This thesis work aims to discover new Dirac/Weyl semimetals through single crystal synthesis and characterization. This thesis is organized as follows: In chapter 1, I will first briefly review several basic concepts of topological properties and introduce a few prototype topological semimetals related to my thesis work. Since one important part of my thesis work involves single crystal growth of topological semimetals, I will introduce the crystal growth methods used in my research in chapter 2. In chapters 3, 4 and 5, I will present my experimental discoveries of new topological semimetals, including YSn2, CaSn3 and TbPtBi. I will not only show property characterization of these material, but also discuss their underlying physics. For YSn2, my work reveals that its slightly distorted square lattice of Sn generates multiple topologically non-trivial bands, one of which likely hosts nodal line and tunable Weyl semimetal state induced by the Rashba spin-orbit coupling (SOC) and proper external magnetic field. The quasiparticles described as relativistic fermions from these bands are manifested by nearly zero mass, and non-trivial Berry phases probed in de Haas–van Alphen (dHvA) oscillations. The dHvA study also reveals YSn2 has a complex Fermi surface (FS), consisting of several 3D and one 2D pocket. Our first principle calculations show the point-like 3D pocket at Y point on the Brillouin zone boundary hosts the possible Weyl state. Our findings establish YSn2 as a new interesting platform for observing novel topological phases and studying their underlying physics. In the study of CaSn3, we not only found it possesses non-trivial band topology, but also discovered its intrinsic superconductivity at 1.178 K. Its topological fermion properties, including the nearly zero quasi-particle mass and the non-trivial Berry phase accumulated in cyclotron motions, were revealed from the dHvA quantum oscillation studies of this material. Our findings make CaSn3 a promising candidate for exploring new exotic states arising from the interplay between non-trivial band topology and superconductivity, e.g., topological superconductivity. For the Half-Heusler compound TbPtBi, we have studied its field-induced Weyl semimetal state. We have observed remarkable transport signatures of its Weyl state, including the chiral anomaly, intrinsic anomalous Hall effect (AHE), and in-plane Hall effect. Moreover, we found TbPtBi exhibits a much larger AHE than the previously reported field-induced Weyl semimetal state in GdPtBi. The distinct aspect of TbPtBi is that Tb ions carry greater magnetic moments than Gd ions in GdPtBi (9.0B/Tb vs.7.0B/Gd). We find that such a moment increase in TbPtBi drastically enhances its AHE, with its anomalous Hall angle reaching as large as 0.50-0.76 in its antiferromagnetic (AFM) state. This finding not only strongly supports that the Zeeman effect due to the large exchange field from 4f electrons plays a critical role in creating the field-included Weyl state, but also provides clear evidence for the theoretical prediction that the intrinsic anomalous Hall conductivity is proportional to the separation of the Weyl points with opposite chirality.