Origin of the quasi-quantized Hall effect in ZrTe$_5$
The quantum Hall effect (QHE) is traditionally considered to be a purely two-dimensional (2D) phenomenon. Recently, however, a three-dimensional (3D) version of the QHE was reported in the Dirac semimetal ZrTe5. It was proposed to arise from a magnetic-field-driven Fermi surface instability, transforming the original 3D electron system into a stack of 2D sheets. Here, we report thermodynamic, spectroscopic, thermoelectric and charge transport measurements on such ZrTe5 samples. The measured properties: magnetization, ultrasound propagation, scanning tunneling spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy, show no signatures of a Fermi surface instability, consistent with in-field single crystal X-ray diffraction. Instead, a direct comparison of the experimental data with linear response calculations based on an effective 3D Dirac Hamiltonian suggests that the quasi-quantization of the observed Hall response emerges from the interplay of the intrinsic properties of the ZrTe$_5$ electronic structure and its Dirac-type semi-metallic character.