Electromagnetic response of Weyl semimetals

Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Jul 12;111(2):027201. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.027201. Epub 2013 Jul 9.


It has been suggested recently, based on subtle field-theoretical considerations, that the electromagnetic response of Weyl semimetals and the closely related Weyl insulators can be characterized by an axion term θE·B with space and time dependent axion angle θ(r,t). Here we construct a minimal lattice model of the Weyl medium and study its electromagnetic response by a combination of analytical and numerical techniques. We confirm the existence of the anomalous Hall effect expected on the basis of the field theory treatment. We find, contrary to the latter, that chiral magnetic effect (that is, ground state charge current induced by the applied magnetic field) is absent in both the semimetal and the insulator phase. We elucidate the reasons for this discrepancy.