Evidence of a coupled electron-phonon liquid in NbGe2

Whereas electron-phonon scattering relaxes the electron’s momentum in metals, a perpetual exchange of momentum between phonons and electrons may conserve total momentum and lead to a coupled electron-phonon liquid. Such a phase of matter could be a platform for observing electron hydrodynamics. Here we present evidence of an electron-phonon liquid in the transition metal ditetrelide, NbGe2, from three different experiments. First, quantum oscillations reveal an enhanced quasiparticle mass, which is unexpected in NbGe2 with weak electron-electron correlations, hence pointing at electron-phonon interactions. Second, resistivity measurements exhibit a discrepancy between the experimental data and standard Fermi liquid calculations. Third, Raman scattering shows anomalous temperature dependences of the phonon linewidths that fit an empirical model based on phonon-electron coupling. We discuss structural factors, such as chiral symmetry, short metallic bonds, and a low-symmetry coordination environment as potential design principles for materials with coupled electron-phonon liquid.

Nature Communications (2021)