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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Unconventional Photocurrents from Surface Fermi Arcs in Topological Chiral Semimetals


The nonlinear optical responses from topological semimetals are crucial in both understanding the fundamental properties of quantum materials and designing next-generation light sensors or solar cells. However, previous work focused on the optical effects from bulk states only, disregarding the responses from topological surface states. In this Letter, we propose a new surface-only photocurrent response from chiral Fermi arcs. Using the ideal topological chiral semimetal RhSi as a representative, we quantitatively compute the photogalvanic currents from Fermi arcs on different surfaces. By rigorous crystal symmetry analysis, we demonstrate that Fermi arc photogalvanic currents can be perpendicular to the bulk injection currents regardless of the choice of materials surface. We then generalize this finding to other cubic chiral space groups and predict material candidates. Our theory reveals a powerful notion where common crystalline symmetry can be used to completely disentangle bulk and surface optical responses in many conducting material families.

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