Research Article

Realization of an ideal Weyl semimetal band in a quantum gas with 3D spin-orbit coupling

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Science  16 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6539, pp. 271-276
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc0105

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A minimal Weyl semimetal

Many compounds have now been identified as Weyl semimetals, materials with an unusual electronic band structure characterized by the so-called Weyl points. Weyl points always appear in pairs, but the solid-state materials studied so far have at least four. Wang et al. engineered a Weyl semimetallic state with the minimum number of Weyl points (two) in a gas of ultracold atoms trapped in an optical lattice (see the Perspective by Goldman and Yefsah). To do that, the researchers had to create three-dimensional spin-orbit coupling in this system. The relative simplicity of the resulting band structure will make it easier to observe the unusual effects associated with this state.

Science, this issue p. 271; see also p. 234

Abstract

Weyl semimetals are three-dimensional (3D) gapless topological phases with Weyl cones in the bulk band. According to lattice theory, Weyl cones must come in pairs, with the minimum number of cones being two. A semimetal with only two Weyl cones is an ideal Weyl semimetal (IWSM). Here we report the experimental realization of an IWSM band by engineering 3D spin-orbit coupling for ultracold atoms. The topological Weyl points are clearly measured via the virtual slicing imaging technique in equilibrium and are further resolved in the quench dynamics. The realization of an IWSM band opens an avenue to investigate various exotic phenomena that are difficult to access in solids.

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