Quantized Photocurrents in the Chiral Multifold Fermion System RhSi
Published 2019-02-08Version 1
The rapid pace of discovery of new classes of Weyl semimetals is driving a search for properties that derive from their unique bandstructure topology. One of the most striking of the predicted properties is the quantized circular photogalvanic effect (QCPGE), whereby excitation of Weyl fermions by helical photons generates a current that is quantized in units of material-independent fundamental constants over a range of photon energies. Although this remarkable result was initially derived for the simplest case of a two-band crossing, it was later shown to apply to more complex multifold fermion band crossings, where the photocurrent is actually enhanced by larger topological charges. Real materials that exhibit this property are difficult to find in practice as the QCPGE requires that Weyl nodes with opposite topological charge, and hence oppositely directed photocurrent, lie at different energies. This condition in turn dictates that the host crystal must break all mirror symmetries and therefore be chiral. Here we report measurements of photocurrent in the multifold chiral semimetal RhSi that confirm the unique aspects of the predicted multifold fermion response. Specifically, the photocurrent spectrum displays a prominent, mesa-like structure, in which a frequency-independent plateau at low photon energy abruptly falls-off above 0.66 eV, precisely the energy at which the bandstructure indicates the onset of cancelling photocurrent from Weyl nodes of opposite topological charge. The magnitude of photocurrent on this mesa is consistent, within errors arising from indirect estimation of the current relaxation time, with the value expected from quantization, suggesting that RhSi is the first material to support a quantized injection photocurrent of topological origin.