Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Desperately seeking Weyl semi-metals. 2.

Since my previous post about the search for a Weyl semimetal in pyrochlore iridates (such as R2Ir2O7, where R=rare earth) read two more interesting papers on the subject.

Metal-Insulator Transition and Topological Properties of Pyrochlore Iridates 
Hongbin Zhang, Kristjan Haule, and David Vanderbilt

Using a careful DMFT+DFT study they are able to reproduce experimental trends across the series, R=Y, Eu, Sm, Nd, Pr, Bi.

They show that when the self energy due to interactions is included that the band structure is topologically trivial, contrary to the 2010 proposal based on DFT+U.

They also find that the quasi-particle weight is quite small (about 0.1 for R=Sm, Nd and 0.2 for Pr). This goes some way towards explaining the fact that the infrared conductivity gives an extremely small Drude weight (about 0.05 electrons per unit cell), a puzzle I highlighted in my first post.

Field-induced quantum metal–insulator transition in the pyrochlore iridate Nd2Ir2O7 
Zhaoming Tian, Yoshimitsu Kohama, Takahiro Tomita, Hiroaki Ishizuka, Timothy H. Hsieh, Jun J. Ishikawa, Koichi Kindo, Leon Balents, and Satoru Nakatsuji

The authors make much of two things.

First, the relatively low magnetic field (about 10 Tesla) required to induce the transition from the magnetic insulator to the metallic phase. Specifically, the relevant Zeeman energy is much smaller that the charge gap in the insulating phase.
However, one might argue that the energy scale one should be comparing to is the thermal energy associated with the magnetic transition temperature.

Second. the novelty of this transition.
However, in 2001 a somewhat similar transition was observed in the organic charge transfer salt, lambda-(BETS)2FeCl4. It is even more dramatic because it undergoes a field-induced transition from a Mott insulator to a superconductor. The physics is also quite similar in that it can also be described by Hubbard-Kondo model, where local moments are coupled to interacting delocalised electrons.

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