Research ArticleCONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS

Evidence for a strain-tuned topological phase transition in ZrTe5

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Science Advances  09 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaav9771
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav9771

Abstract

A phase transition between topologically distinct insulating phases involves closing and reopening the bandgap. Near the topological phase transition, the bulk energy spectrum is characterized by a massive Dirac dispersion, where the bandgap plays the role of mass. We report measurements of strain dependence of electrical transport properties of ZrTe5, which is known to host massive Dirac fermions in the bulk due to its proximity to a topological phase transition. We observe that the resistivity exhibits a pronounced minimum at a critical strain. We further find that the positive longitudinal magnetoconductance becomes maximal at the critical strain. This nonmonotonic strain dependence is consistent with the switching of sign of the Dirac mass and, hence, a strain-tuned topological phase transition in ZrTe5.

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