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Thermodynamic signature of Dirac electrons across a possible topological transition in ZrTe5

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We combine transport, magnetization, and torque magnetometry measurements to investigate the electronic structure of ZrTe5, a system that is thought to be near a topological phase transition. At fields beyond the quantum limit, we observe a magnetization reversal from paramagnetic to diamagnetic response, which is characteristic of a Dirac semimetal. However, on increasing temperature across a corresponding transport anomaly, all signatures of this Dirac-like nature are completely suppressed, providing the first thermodynamic evidence of a possible topological phase transition in this compound. ZrTe5 may thus provide a rare, experimentally accessible example in which such phase transitions can be studied directly.

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