Topological semimetallic phase in PbO2 promoted by temperature

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Peng, B 
Bravić, I 
Macmanus-Driscoll, JL 
Monserrat, B 

© 2019 American Physical Society. Materials exhibiting topological order host exotic phenomena that could form the basis for novel developments in areas ranging from low-power electronics to quantum computers. The past decade has witnessed multiple experimental realizations and thousands of predictions of topological materials. However, it has been determined that increasing temperature destroys topological order, restricting many topological materials to very low temperatures and thus hampering practical applications. Here, we propose a material realization of temperature-promoted topological order. We show that a semiconducting oxide that has been widely used in lead-acid batteries, β-PbO2, hosts a topological semimetallic phase driven by both thermal expansion and electron-phonon coupling upon increasing temperature. We identify the interplay between the quasi-two-dimensional nature of the charge distribution of the valence band with the three-dimensional nature of the charge distribution of the conduction band as the microscopic mechanism driving this unconventional temperature dependence. Thus, we propose a general principle to search for and design topological materials whose topological order is stabilized by increasing temperature. This provides a clear roadmap for taking topological materials from the laboratory to technological devices.

51 Physical Sciences, 5104 Condensed Matter Physics
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Physical Review B
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American Physical Society (APS)
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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P020259/1)