Experimental observation of Weyl points

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Science  07 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6248, pp. 622-624
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa9273

Weyl physics emerges in the laboratory

Weyl fermions—massless particles with half-integer spin—were once mistakenly thought to describe neutrinos. Although not yet observed among elementary particles, Weyl fermions may exist as collective excitations in so-called Weyl semimetals. These materials have an unusual band structure in which the linearly dispersing valence and conduction bands meet at discrete “Weyl points.” Xu et al. used photoemission spectroscopy to identify TaAs as a Weyl semimetal capable of hosting Weyl fermions. In a complementary study, Lu et al. detected the characteristic Weyl points in a photonic crystal. The observation of Weyl physics may enable the discovery of exotic fundamental phenomena.

Science, this issue p. 613 and 622


The massless solutions to the Dirac equation are described by the so-called Weyl Hamiltonian. The Weyl equation requires a particle to have linear dispersion in all three dimensions while being doubly degenerate at a single momentum point. These Weyl points are topological monopoles of quantized Berry flux exhibiting numerous unusual properties. We performed angle-resolved microwave transmission measurements through a double-gyroid photonic crystal with inversion-breaking where Weyl points have been theoretically predicted to occur. The excited bulk states show two linear dispersion bands touching at four isolated points in the three-dimensional Brillouin zone, indicating the observation of Weyl points. This work paves the way to a variety of photonic topological phenomena in three dimensions.

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