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Orbital effect and weak localization in the longitudinal magnetoresistance of Weyl semimetals NbP, NbAs, TaP, and TaAs

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Naumann, M., Arnold, F., Bachmann, M. D., Modic, K. A., Moll, P. J. W., Süß, V., et al. (2020). Orbital effect and weak localization in the longitudinal magnetoresistance of Weyl semimetals NbP, NbAs, TaP, and TaAs. Physical Review Materials, 4(3): 034201. doi:10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.4.034201.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-77DE-6
Weyl semimetals such as the TaAs family (TaAs, TaP, NbAs, NbP) host quasiparticle excitations resembling the long-sought-after Weyl fermions at special band-crossing points in the band structure denoted as Weyl nodes. They are predicted to exhibit a negative longitudinal magnetoresistance (LMR) due to the chiral anomaly if the Fermi energy is sufficiently close to the Weyl points. However, current jetting effects, i.e., current inhomogeneities caused by a strong, field-induced conductivity anisotropy in semimetals, have a similar experimental signature and therefore have hindered a determination of the intrinsic LMR in the TaAs family so far. This work investigates the longitudinal magnetoresistance of all four members of this family along the crystallographic a and c directions. Our samples are of similar quality as those previously studied in the literature and have a similar chemical potential, as indicated by matching quantum-oscillation frequencies. Care was taken to ensure homogeneous currents in all measurements. As opposed to previous studies where this was not done, we find a positive LMR that saturates in fields above 4 T in TaP, NbP, and NbAs for B||c. Using Fermi-surface geometries from band-structure calculations that had been confirmed by experiment, we show that this is the behavior expected from a classical purely orbital effect, independent of the distance of the Weyl node to the Fermi energy. The TaAs family of compounds is the first to show such a simple LMR without apparent influences of scattering anisotropy. In configurations where the orbital effect is small, i.e., for B||a in NbAs and NbP, we find a nonmonotonous LMR, including regions of negative LMR. We discuss a weak antilocalization scenario as an alternative interpretation to the chiral anomaly for these results, since it can fully account for the overall field dependence.