A New Class of Metals—Weyl Semimetals
Electrons behave differently in metals than they do in a vacuum. According to Brad J. Ramshaw, Physics, there’s a sense in which each metal has its own laws of physics that electrons must obey. This turns every new material into its own universe where discoveries can be made.
With this CAREER award, Ramshaw is exploring a new class of metals—Weyl semimetals—that have massless electrons similar to those in graphene but that are free to move in three dimensions. Magnetic fields are a powerful tool for the study of electrons in metals, coercing electrons into new patterns of motion. While two-dimensional graphene has been studied intensively in high magnetic fields for more than a decade, researchers have a gap in their understanding when it comes to three-dimensional metals. Ramshaw is working to fill this gap by applying extremely large magnetic fields to force the Weyl electrons to interact with one another and form new states of matter.
Taking measurements under these extreme conditions will push the frontier for techniques such as ultrasound spectroscopy up to 100 tesla and beyond. This broadens the range of parameters where discoveries can be made by all researchers investigating new materials. Furthermore, the uncovering of a new field-induced state of matter will yield fundamental breakthroughs that could lead to significant applications in the future.