In 2015 Zhong Fang and Hongming Weng were part of a team to predict and confirm that tantalum arsenide is a Weyl semimetal. These exotic materials contain the first evidence for the existence of Weyl fermions – massless particles predicted in 1929 as a solution of the Dirac equation. In this podcast, Hamish Johnston catches up with Fang and Weng at the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and asks them about their work on Weyl semimetals and other topological materials.
Fang and Weng were named in the Physics World Top 10 Breakthroughs of 2015 for their work on Weyl fermions, which are quasiparticles that they found lurking in their Weyl semimetal. Weyl fermions also have unique properties that could make them useful for creating high-speed electronic circuits among other applications.
Fang explains how his team of theorists uses mathematics and computer simulations to predict which materials are topological. He also explains how topological materials could be useful in creating quantum computers of the future. Weng then takes up the challenge of explaining just what a Weyl semimetal is and why it is home to Weyl fermions. He also explains how the topological material could be used to create another elusive quasiparticle – the Majorana fermion.