Axionic charge-density wave in the Weyl semimetal (TaSe4)2I

J. Gooth, B. Bradlyn, S. Honnali, C. Schindler, N. Kumar, J. Noky, Y. Qi, C. Shekhar, Y. Sun, Z. Wang, B. A. Bernevig, C. Felser

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Abstract

An axion insulator is a correlated topological phase, which is predicted to arise from the formation of a charge-density wave in a Weyl semimetal1,2—that is, a material in which electrons behave as massless chiral fermions. The accompanying sliding mode in the charge-density-wave phase—the phason—is an axion3,4 and is expected to cause anomalous magnetoelectric transport effects. However, this axionic charge-density wave has not yet been experimentally detected. Here we report the observation of a large positive contribution to the magnetoconductance in the sliding mode of the charge-density-wave Weyl semimetal (TaSe4)2I for collinear electric and magnetic fields. The positive contribution to the magnetoconductance originates from the anomalous axionic contribution of the chiral anomaly to the phason current, and is locked to the parallel alignment of the electric and magnetic fields. By rotating the magnetic field, we show that the angular dependence of the magnetoconductance is consistent with the anomalous transport of an axionic charge-density wave. Our results show that it is possible to find experimental evidence for axions in strongly correlated topological condensed matter systems, which have so far been elusive in any other context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-319
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume575
Issue number7782
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 14 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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    Gooth, J., Bradlyn, B., Honnali, S., Schindler, C., Kumar, N., Noky, J., Qi, Y., Shekhar, C., Sun, Y., Wang, Z., Bernevig, B. A., & Felser, C. (2019). Axionic charge-density wave in the Weyl semimetal (TaSe4)2I. Nature, 575(7782), 315-319. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1630-4