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Special CAMP: Semimetals Unlimited

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Brian Skinner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
24 January 2018 from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM
339 Davey Laboratory
Contact Name
Vin Crespi
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Modern electronics is built on semiconductors, whose utility comes from their ability to operate on either side of the conductor-insulator dichotomy. For practical applications, however, semiconductors face certain unavoidable limitations imposed by the physics of Anderson localization and by the disorder introduced through doping.  In this talk I discuss whether these same limitations apply to nodal semimetals, which are a novel class of three-dimensional materials that have a vanishing density of states (like insulators) but no gap to electron-hole excitations (like conductors). I show that, surprisingly, in a certain class of nodal semimetals the electronic mobility can far exceed the bounds that constrain doped semiconductors, becoming divergingly large even with a finite concentration of charged impurities. I then discuss the thermoelectric effect in semimetals, and show that their electron-hole symmetry allows for a thermopower that grows without bound under the application of a strong magnetic field. This large thermopower apparently enables the development of devices with record-large thermoelectric figure of merit.