Probing the chiral anomaly with nonlocal transport in three-dimensional topological semimetals

S. A. Parameswaran, T. Grover, D. A. Abanin, D. A. Pesin, A. Vishwanath

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427 Scopus citations


Weyl semimetals are three-dimensional crystalline systems where pairs of bands touch at points in momentum space, termed Weyl nodes, that are characterized by a definite topological charge: the chirality. Consequently, they exhibit the Adler-Bell-Jackiw anomaly, which in this condensed-matter realization implies that the application of parallel electric (E) and magnetic (B) fields pumps electrons between nodes of opposite chirality at a rate proportional to E · B. We argue that this pumping is measurable via nonlocal transport experiments, in the limit of weak internode scattering. Specifically, we show that as a consequence of the anomaly, applying a local magnetic field parallel to an injected current induces a valley imbalance that diffuses over long distances. A probe magnetic field can then convert this imbalance into a measurable voltage drop far from source and drain. Such nonlocal transport vanishes when the injected current and magnetic field are orthogonal and therefore serves as a test of the chiral anomaly. We further demonstrate that a similar effect should also characterize Dirac semimetals-recently reported to have been observed in experiments-where the coexistence of a pair of Weyl nodes at a single point in the Brillouin zone is protected by a crystal symmetry. Since the nodes are analogous to valley degrees of freedom in semiconductors, the existence of the anomaly suggests that valley currents in three-dimensional topological semimetals can be controlled using electric fields, which has potential practical "valleytronic" applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031035
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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