Weak Topological Insulators and Composite Weyl Semimetals: β-Bi4X4 (X=Br, I)

Phys Rev Lett. 2016 Feb 12;116(6):066801. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.066801. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


While strong topological insulators (STIs) were experimentally realized soon after they were theoretically predicted, a weak topological insulator (WTI) has yet to be unambiguously confirmed. A major obstacle is the lack of distinct natural cleavage surfaces to test the surface selective hallmark of a WTI. With a new scheme, we discover that β-Bi4X4 (X=Br, I), dynamically stable or synthesized before, can be a prototype WTI with two natural cleavage surfaces, where two anisotropic Dirac cones stabilize and annihilate, respectively. We further find four surface-state Lifshitz transitions under charge doping and two bulk topological phase transitions under uniaxial strain. Near the WTI-STI transition, there emerges a novel Weyl semimetal phase, in which the Fermi arcs generically appear at both cleavage surfaces whereas the Fermi circle only appears at one selected surface.