Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Novel topological crystalline insulator shows mass appeal

30.08.2013
Experiments confirm defining characteristics of topological crystalline insulators

Disrupting the symmetrical structure of a solid-state topological crystalline insulator creates mass in previously mass-less electrons and imparts an unexpected level of control in this nascent class of materials, an international team of researchers reports in the current edition of Science Express.

The researchers not only confirmed several theoretical predictions about topological crystalline insulators (TCIs), but made a significant experimental leap forward that revealed even more details about the crystal structure and electronic behavior of these newly identified materials, according to Boston College Associate Professor of Physics Vidya Madhavan, one of the lead authors of the report.

The findings could pave the way for engineering the electronic properties of TCI surfaces towards novel functionalities at the nanoscale.

"There is a lot of rich physics here that's waiting to be explored," said Madhavan. "We've opened the door to better understanding topological crystalline insulators and the potential of these materials."

Confirmed within the past few years, topological insulators possess interiors that behave like insulators, blocking the flow of electrons. Yet externally, they contain conducting states where electrons can move freely across their surfaces. A few years ago, physicists first posited the existence of TCIs, a new class of topological materials where conducting surface electrons are theorized to obey fundamental quantum laws set by the crystalline structure of the interior.

Starting with a TCI consisting of lead and selenium, researchers sought to disrupt its structural symmetry by provoking, or doping, the material through the addition of tin, Madhavan said. The subsequent disruption had a dramatic effect on mass-less "Dirac" electrons that are present within the material and behave as relativistic particles. The manipulation added mass to some of these electrons, which took their places side-by-side with the Dirac electrons, a startling result in a solid-state material, Madhavan said.

The new massive electrons were measured topologically through scanning tunneling microscopy and electrically through spectroscopy, the researchers report.

The analysis revealed the Dirac point, which is the defining characteristic of the TCI, said Madhavan. Furthermore, the researchers found that varying the amount of tin imparted a measure of control over the material's properties, fulfilling yet another theoretical prediction.

Madhavan said the results confirmed the TCI's exotic band structure, a measure of the energy a surface electron may or may not possess within a solid. At the same time, the fundamental properties of the TCI remained accessible.

Moreover, observing and controlling Dirac electrons in TCIs paves the way for investigating relativistic physics in solid state systems: physics which was previously accessible only in the experiments of high-energy physics where particles are accelerated to speeds close to light.

In addition, the experiments revealed two distinct regimes of fermiology, an energy boundary used to make determinations about the properties of metals and semiconductors.

Along with Madhavan, the project team featured some of the leading researchers in condensed matter physics, including Boston College Assistant Professor of Physics Stephen Wilson, MIT Assistant Professor of Physics Liang Fu, Princeton University Professor of Physics M. Zahid Hasan, Northeastern University Professor of Physics Arun Bansil and National Taiwan University Researcher Fang Cheng Chou.

Ed Hayward | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bc.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology

nachricht Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect
24.05.2017 | University of Cologne

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>