Spatially dispersive circular photogalvanic effect in a Weyl semimetal

Nat Mater. 2019 Sep;18(9):955-962. doi: 10.1038/s41563-019-0421-5. Epub 2019 Jul 15.


Weyl semimetals (WSMs) are gapless topological states of matter with broken inversion and/or time reversal symmetry. WSMs can support a circulating photocurrent when illuminated by circularly polarized light at normal incidence. Here, we report a spatially dispersive circular photogalvanic effect (s-CPGE) in a WSM that occurs with a spatially varying beam profile. Our analysis shows that the s-CPGE is controlled by a symmetry selection rule combined with asymmetric carrier excitation and relaxation dynamics. By evaluating the s-CPGE for a minimal model of a WSM, a frequency-dependent scaling behaviour of the photocurrent is obtained. Wavelength-dependent measurements from the visible to mid-infrared range show evidence of Berry curvature singularities and band inversion in the s-CPGE response. We present the s-CPGE as a promising spectroscopic probe for topological band properties, with the potential for controlling photoresponse by patterning optical fields on topological materials to store, manipulate and transmit information.