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Concept: Paul Dirac


Quantum point contacts are cornerstones of mesoscopic physics and central building blocks for quantum electronics. Although the Fermi wavelength in high-quality bulk graphene can be tuned up to hundreds of nanometres, the observation of quantum confinement of Dirac electrons in nanostructured graphene has proven surprisingly challenging. Here we show ballistic transport and quantized conductance of size-confined Dirac fermions in lithographically defined graphene constrictions. At high carrier densities, the observed conductance agrees excellently with the Landauer theory of ballistic transport without any adjustable parameter. Experimental data and simulations for the evolution of the conductance with magnetic field unambiguously confirm the identification of size quantization in the constriction. Close to the charge neutrality point, bias voltage spectroscopy reveals a renormalized Fermi velocity of ∼1.5 × 10(6) m s(-1) in our constrictions. Moreover, at low carrier density transport measurements allow probing the density of localized states at edges, thus offering a unique handle on edge physics in graphene devices.

Concepts: Electron, Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Particle physics, Quantum field theory, Standard Model, Paul Dirac


Parity effect, which means that even-odd property of an integer physical parameter results in an essential difference, ubiquitously appears and enables us to grasp its physical essence as the microscopic mechanism is less significant in coarse graining. Here we report a new parity effect of quantum Hall edge transport in graphene antidot devices with pn junctions (PNJs). We found and experimentally verified that the bipolar quantum Hall edge transport is drastically affected by the parity of the number of PNJs. This parity effect is universal in bipolar quantum Hall edge transport of not only graphene but also massless Dirac electron systems. These results offer a promising way to design electron interferometers in graphene.

Concepts: Electron, Quantum mechanics, Spin, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Quantum Hall effect, Dirac equation, Paul Dirac


Transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are renowned for their rich and varied bulk properties, while their single-layer variants have become one of the most prominent examples of two-dimensional materials beyond graphene. Their disparate ground states largely depend on transition metal d-electron-derived electronic states, on which the vast majority of attention has been concentrated to date. Here, we focus on the chalcogen-derived states. From density-functional theory calculations together with spin- and angle-resolved photoemission, we find that these generically host a co-existence of type-I and type-II three-dimensional bulk Dirac fermions as well as ladders of topological surface states and surface resonances. We demonstrate how these naturally arise within a single p-orbital manifold as a general consequence of a trigonal crystal field, and as such can be expected across a large number of compounds. Already, we demonstrate their existence in six separate TMDs, opening routes to tune, and ultimately exploit, their topological physics.

Concepts: Electron, Mathematics, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Quantum field theory, Dimension, Manifold, Paul Dirac


Superlattices have attracted great interest because their use may make it possible to modify the spectra of two-dimensional electron systems and, ultimately, create materials with tailored electronic properties. In previous studies (see, for example, refs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), it proved difficult to realize superlattices with short periodicities and weak disorder, and most of their observed features could be explained in terms of cyclotron orbits commensurate with the superlattice. Evidence for the formation of superlattice minibands (forming a fractal spectrum known as Hofstadter’s butterfly) has been limited to the observation of new low-field oscillations and an internal structure within Landau levels. Here we report transport properties of graphene placed on a boron nitride substrate and accurately aligned along its crystallographic directions. The substrate’s moiré potential acts as a superlattice and leads to profound changes in the graphene’s electronic spectrum. Second-generation Dirac points appear as pronounced peaks in resistivity, accompanied by reversal of the Hall effect. The latter indicates that the effective sign of the charge carriers changes within graphene’s conduction and valence bands. Strong magnetic fields lead to Zak-type cloning of the third generation of Dirac points, which are observed as numerous neutrality points in fields where a unit fraction of the flux quantum pierces the superlattice unit cell. Graphene superlattices such as this one provide a way of studying the rich physics expected in incommensurable quantum systems and illustrate the possibility of controllably modifying the electronic spectra of two-dimensional atomic crystals by varying their crystallographic alignment within van der Waals heterostuctures.

Concepts: Scientific method, Electron, Magnetic field, Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Quantum Hall effect, Paul Dirac


We investigate ground state and high-temperature properties of the nearest-neighbour Heisenberg antiferromagnet on the three-dimensional diamond lattice, using series expansion methods. The ground-state energy and magnetization as well as the magnon spectrum are calculated and found to be in good agreement with first-order spin-wave theory, with a quantum renormalization factor of about 1.13. High-temperature series are derived for the free energy, and physical and staggered susceptibilities for spin S1/2, 1 and 3/2, and analysed to obtain the corresponding Curie and Neel temperatures.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Quantum field theory, Paramagnetism, Magnetism, Entropy, Paul Dirac


We study the effects of four-fermion interaction and impurity on the low-energy states of two-dimensional semi-Dirac materials by virtue of the unbiased renormalization group approach. The coupled flow equations that govern the energy-dependent evolutions of all correlated interaction parameters are derived after taking into account one-loop corrections from the interplay between four-fermion interaction and impurity. Whether and how four-fermion interaction and impurity influence the low-energy properties of two-dimensional semi-Dirac materials are discreetly explored and addressed attentively. After carrying out the standard renormalization group analysis, we find that both trivial insulating and nontrivial semimetal states are qualitatively stable against all four kinds of four-fermion interactions. However, while switching on both four-fermion interaction and impurity, certain insulator-semimetal phase transition and the distance of Dirac nodal points can be respectively induced and modified due to their strong interplay and intimate competition. Moreover, several non-Fermi liquid behaviors that deviate from the conventional Fermi liquids are exhibited at the lowest-energy limit. .

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Quantum field theory, Phase transition, Renormalization group, Paul Dirac, Renormalization


Topological electronics is a new field that uses topological charges as current-carrying degrees of freedom. For topological electronics applications, systems should host topologically distinct phases to control the topological domain boundary through which the topological charges can flow. Due to their multiple Dirac cones and the π-Berry phase of each Dirac cone, graphene-like electronic structures constitute an ideal platform for topological electronics; graphene can provide various topological phases when incorporated with large spin-orbit coupling and mass-gap tunability via symmetry-breaking. Here, we propose that a (111)-oriented BaBiO3 bilayer (BBL) sandwiched between large-gap perovskite oxides is a promising candidate for topological electronics by realizing a gap-tunable, and consequently a topology-tunable, graphene analogue. Depending on how neighboring perovskite spacers are chosen, the inversion symmetry of the BBL heterostructure can be either conserved or broken, leading to the quantum spin Hall (QSH) and quantum valley Hall (QVH) phases, respectively. BBL sandwiched by ferroelectric compounds enables switching of the QSH and QVH phases and generates the topological domain boundary. Given the abundant order parameters of the sandwiching oxides, the BBL can serve as versatile topological building blocks in oxide heterostructures.

Concepts: Angular momentum, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Condensed matter physics, Quantum electrodynamics, Manifold, Dirac equation, Paul Dirac


Helically spin-polarized Dirac fermions (HSDF) in protected topological surface states (TSS) are of high interest as a new state of quantum matter. In three-dimensional (3D) materials with TSS, electronic bulk states often mask the transport properties of HSDF. Recently, the high-field Hall resistance and low-field magnetoresistance indicate that the TSS may coexist with a layered two-dimensional electronic system (2DES). Here, we demonstrate quantum oscillations of the Hall resistance at temperatures up to 50 K in nominally undoped bulk Bi2Se3 with a high electron density n of about 2·1019 cm-3. From the angular and temperature dependence of the Hall resistance and the Shubnikov-de Haas oscillations we identify 3D and 2D contributions to transport. Angular resolved photoemission spectroscopy proves the existence of TSS. We present a model for Bi2Se3 and suggest that the coexistence of TSS and 2D layered transport stabilizes the quantum oscillations of the Hall resistance.

Concepts: Electron, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Particle physics, Density, Fermion, Standard Model, Paul Dirac


We propose a graphene device that can generate spin-dependent negative differential resistance (NDR). The device is composed of a sufficiently wide and short graphene sheet and two gated EuO strips deposited on top of it. This scheme avoids the graphene edge tailoring required by previous proposals. More importantly, we find a clear indication of a spin selectivity and a region tunability in the spin-dependent NDR: by changing the top gates of the device, NDR for spin up only, spin down only, or both spins (occurring sequentially) can be respectively realized; meanwhile, the central position of the NDR region in each case can be monotonously tuned over a wide range of bias voltage. These remarkable features are attributed to a gate controllability of the spin-dependent resonance levels in the device hence their deviations from the Fermi energy and the Dirac point in the source electrode respectively. They add a spin and a bias degree of freedom to the conventional NDR, which paves the way for designing a whole new class of NDR circuits.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Quantum field theory, Enrico Fermi, Degrees of freedom, Pauli exclusion principle, Electronics terms, Paul Dirac


Growth of X-enes, such as silicene, germanene and stanene, requires passivated substrates to ensure the survival of their exotic properties. Using first-principles methods, we study as-grown graphene on polar SiC surfaces as suitable substrates. Trilayer combinations with coincidence lattices with large hexagonal unit cells allow for strain-free group-IV monolayers. In contrast to the Si-terminated SiC surface, van der Waals-bonded honeycomb X-ene/graphene bilayers on top of the C-terminated SiC substrate are stable. Folded band structures show Dirac cones of the overlayers with small gaps of about 0.1 eV in between. The topological invariants of the peeled-off X-ene/graphene bilayers indicate the presence of topological character and the existence of a quantum spin Hall phase.

Concepts: Electron, Spin, Condensed matter physics, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Dirac equation, Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli