New particle could form the basis of energy-saving electronics

The Weyl fermion, just discovered in the past year, moves through materials practically without resistance. Now MARVEL researchers at PSI (group of Ming Shi) and EPFL (group of Oleg Yazyev) are showing how it could be put to use in electronic components. 

Today electronic devices consume a lot of energy and require elaborate cooling mechanisms. One approach for the development of future energy-saving electronics is to use special particles that exist only in the interior of materials but can move there practically undisturbed. Electronic components based on these so-called Weyl fermions would consume considerably less energy than present-day chips. That’s because up to now devices have relied on the movement of electrons, which is inhibited by resistance and thus wastes energy. Evidence for Weyl fermions was discovered only in the past year, by several research teams including scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI. Now PSI researchers have shown — within the framework of an international collaboration with two research institutions in China and the two Swiss technical universities, ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne — that there are materials in which only one kind of Weyl fermion exists. That could prove decisive for applications in electronic components, because it makes it possible to guide the particles’ flow in the material. The researchers report their results in the journal Nature Communications.

Full text: Paul Scherrer Institute/Paul Piwnicki


N. Xu, H. M. Weng, B. Q. Lv, C. E. Matt, J. Park, F. Bisti, V. N. Strocov, D. Gawryluk, E. Pomjakushina, K. Conder, N. C. Plumb, M. Radovic, G. Autès, O. V. Yazyev, Z. Fang, X. Dai, T. Qian, J. Mesot, H. Ding and M. Shi, Observation of Weyl nodes and Fermi arcs in tantalum phosphide, Nature Communications 7, 11006 (2015), doi:10.1038/ncomms11006.