Quantized circular photogalvanic effect in Weyl semimetals

Nat Commun. 2017 Jul 6;8:15995. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15995.


The circular photogalvanic effect (CPGE) is the part of a photocurrent that switches depending on the sense of circular polarization of the incident light. It has been consistently observed in systems without inversion symmetry and depends on non-universal material details. Here we find that in a class of Weyl semimetals (for example, SrSi2) and three-dimensional Rashba materials (for example, doped Te) without inversion and mirror symmetries, the injection contribution to the CPGE trace is effectively quantized in terms of the fundamental constants e, h, c and with no material-dependent parameters. This is so because the CPGE directly measures the topological charge of Weyl points, and non-quantized corrections from disorder and additional bands can be small over a significant range of incident frequencies. Moreover, the magnitude of the CPGE induced by a Weyl node is relatively large, which enables the direct detection of the monopole charge with current techniques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't