Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineers Show Feasibility of Superfast Materials for Computing

15.02.2013
University of Utah engineers demonstrated it is feasible to build the first organic materials that conduct electricity on their edges, but act as an insulator inside. These materials, called organic topological insulators, could shuttle information at the speed of light in quantum computers and other high-speed electronic devices.

The study published this week in the journal Nature Communications will help pioneer a new field of research in materials science, in the same way organic materials lowered the cost and eased production of light-emitting diodes and solar cells, says senior author Feng Liu, professor and chair of materials science and engineering.


Zhengfei Wang and Feng Liu, University of Utah.

University of Utah engineers demonstrated it is feasible to build the first organic materials that conduct electricity on their molecular edges, but act as an insulator inside. Called organic topological insulators, these materials are made from a thin molecular sheet (left) that resembles chicken wire and conducts electricity on its right edge (blue line) -- with the electrons carrying more information in the form of "up" spin. These new materials could be used to shuttle information at the speed of light in quantum computers due to the unique physical behavior a special class of electrons called Dirac fermions, depicted (right) in a plot of their energy and momentum.

“This is the first demonstration of the existence of topological insulators based on organic materials,” says Liu. “Our findings will broaden the scope and impact of these materials in various applications from spintronics to quantum computing.”

While other researchers still must synthesize the new organic topological insulators, Liu says his team’s previous work “shows we can engineer an interface between two different thin films to create topological insulators,” in which electrons known as Dirac fermions move along the interface between two films, Liu adds.

Liu and his co-workers at the University of Utah’s College of Engineering performed theoretical calculations to predict the existence of an organic topological insulator using molecules with carbon-carbon bonds and carbon-metal bonds, called an organometallic compound. For this new study, the team investigated how Dirac fermions move along the edges of this compound, which looks like a sheet of chicken wire.

To generate a topological insulator, scientists have to design materials that can transmit fermions. In a topological insulator, fermions behave like a massless or weightless packet of light, conducting electricity as they move very fast along a material’s surface or edges. When these fermions venture inside the material, however, this “weightless” conductivity screeches to a halt.

What’s more, Dirac fermions have a property called spin, or angular momentum around the particle’s axis that behaves like a magnetic pole. This property gives scientists another way to place information into a particle because the spin can be switched “up” or “down.” Such a mechanism could be useful for spin-based electronic devices, called spintronics, which can store information both in the charge and the spin of electrons.

“We have demonstrated a system with a special type of electron – a Dirac fermion – in which the spin motion can be manipulated to transmit information,” Liu says. “This is advantageous over traditional electronics because it’s faster and you don’t have to worry about heat dissipation.”

Earlier this year, Liu and his team discovered a “reversible” topological insulator in a system of bismuth-based compounds in which the behavior of ordinary or Dirac fermions could be controlled at the interface between two thin films. Bismuth is a metal best known as an ingredient of Pepto-Bismol. These theoretical predictions were confirmed experimentally by co-authors from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China.

Although inorganic topological insulators based on different materials have been studied for the last decade, organic or molecular topological insulators have not.

Liu conducted the study with Zhengfei Wang and Zheng Liu, both postdoctoral fellows in materials science and engineering at the University of Utah. The study was funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy, with additional support from the Army Research Laboratory and from the National Science Foundation through the University of Utah’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

University of Utah College of Engineering
72 S. Central Campus Dr., Room 1650 WEB
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
801-581-6911 fax: 801-581-8692
www.coe.utah.edu
Contacts:
-- Feng Liu, professor and chair of materials science and engineering –
cell 801-815-7659, office 801-587-7719, fliu@eng.utah.edu
-- Aditi Risbud, senior communications and marketing officer, College of Engineering – cell 213-400-5815, office 801-587-9038, aditi.risbud@coe.utah.edu

Aditi Risbud | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.utah.edu
http://www.coe.utah.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump
14.11.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Automated adhesive film placement and stringer integration for aircraft manufacture
15.11.2018 | Fraunhofer IFAM

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>