Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers map path to quantum electronic devices

A team of Duke University engineers has created a master "ingredient list" describing the properties of more than 2,000 compounds that might be combined to create the next generation of quantum electronics devices.

The goal is topological insulators (TI), man-made crystals that are able to conduct electrical current on their surfaces, while acting as insulators throughout the interior of the crystal. Discovering TIs has become of great interest to scientists, but because of the lack of a rational blueprint for creating them, researchers have had to rely on trial-and-error approaches, with limited success to date.

Because of their unique properties, TIs can be created that conduct electricity more efficiently while also being much smaller that conventional wires or devices. They are ideal candidates to become quantum electronics devices, the Duke researchers said.

The "key" developed by the Duke investigators is a mathematical formulation that unlocks the data stored in a database of potential TI ingredients. It provides specific recipes for searching for TIs with the desired properties.

In November, Stefano Curtarolo, professor of mechanical engineering and materials sciences and physics at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering and founder of the Duke's Center for Materials Genomics, and colleagues reported the establishment of a materials genome repository ( which allows scientists to stop using trial-and-error methods in the search for efficient alloys.

The project developed by the Duke engineers covers thousands of compounds, and provides detailed recipes for creating the most efficient combinations for a particular purpose, much like hardware stores mix different colors of paint to achieve the desired result. The project is the keystone of the newly formed Duke's Center for Materials Genomics.

"While extremely helpful and important, a database is intrinsically a sterile repository of information, without a soul and without life. We need to find the materials' 'genes,'" said Curtarolo. "We have developed what we call the 'topological descriptor,' that when applied to the database can provide the directions for producing crystals with desired properties."

While developing the key to this database, the team also discovered a new class of systems that could not have been anticipated without such a "genetic" approach.

The Duke research was reported online in the journal Nature Materials. The work was supported by the Office of Navy Research and the National Science Foundation.

The new descriptor developed by the Duke team basically can determine status of any specific combination of element under investigation. On one end of the spectrum, Curtarolo explained, is "fragile."

"We can rule those combinations out because, what good is a new type of crystal if it would be too difficult to grow, or if grown, would not likely survive?" Curtarolo said. A second group of combinations would be a middle group termed "feasible."

But what excites Curtarolo most are those combinations found to be "robust." These crystals are stable and can be easily and efficiently produced. Just as importantly, these crystals can be grown in different directions,which gives them the advantage of tailored electrical properties by simple growth processes.

While TIs are currently in the experimental stage, Curtarolo believes that with this new tool, scientists should have a powerful framework for engineering a wide variety of them.

Kesong Yang, a post-doctoral fellow in Curtarolo's laboratory, is first author of the paper. Other members of the team were Duke's Shidong Wang, Wahyu Setyawan, Pacific Northwest Laboratory and Marco Buongiorno Nardelli, University of North Texas and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Citation: "A Search Model for Topological Insulators with High-Throughput Robustness Descriptors," Kesong Yang, et. al., Nature Materials [DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3332].

Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years
27.10.2016 | University of California - Los Angeles

nachricht 3-D-printed structures shrink when heated
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>