(PENNToday) A new study from Penn researchers found that Weyl semimetals, a class of quantum materials, have bulk quantum states whose electrical properties can be controlled using light. The project was led by Ritesh Agarwal and graduate student Zhurun Ji in the School of Engineering and Applied Science in collaboration with Charles Kane, Eugene Mele, and Andrew M. Rappe in the School of Arts and Sciences, along with Zheng Liu from Nanyang Technological University. Penn’s Zachariah Addison, Gerui Liu, Wenjing Liu, and Heng Gao, and Nanyang’s Peng Yu, also contributed to the work.
This work allows researchers to not only better observe quantum phenomena, but it provides a way to engineer and control unique quantum properties simply by changing light beam patterns. “The idea that the modulation of light’s polarization and intensity can change how an electrical charge is transported could be powerful design idea,” says Mele.

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