Field-induced polarization of Dirac valleys in bismuth

Zengwei Zhu, Aurélie Collaudin, Benoǐt Fauqué, Woun Kang, Kamran Behnia

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232 Scopus citations


The electronic structure of certain crystal lattices can contain multiple degenerate 'valleys' for their charge carriers to occupy. This valley degree of freedom could be useful in the development of electronic devices. The principal challenge in the development of 'valleytronics' is to lift the valley degeneracy of charge carriers in a controlled way. Here we show that in semi-metallic bismuth the flow of Dirac fermions along the trigonal axis is extremely sensitive to the orientation of in-plane magnetic field. Thus, a rotatable magnetic field can be used as a valley valve to tune the contribution of each valley to the total conductivity. At high temperature and low magnetic field, bismuth's three valleys are interchangeable and the three-fold symmetry of its lattice is maintained. As the temperature is decreased or the magnetic field increased, this symmetry is spontaneously lost. This loss may be an experimental manifestation of the recently proposed valley-nematic Fermi liquid state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalNature Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Y. Fuseya, A. J. Millis and N. P. Ong for discussions. This work is supported by ANR as part of DELICE and QUANTHERM projects and by a grant attributed by the Ile de France regional council. W.K. is supported by the government of Korea through NRF of Korea Grants (2011-0000982, 0018744, 0019893). We also acknowledge STAR, a France-Korea collaboration program.


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