Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers demonstrate existence of new form of electronic matter

15.03.2018

Researchers have produced a "human scale" demonstration of a new phase of matter called quadrupole topological insulators that was recently predicted using theoretical physics. These are the first experimental findings to validate this theory.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Nature.

The team's work with QTIs was born out of the decade-old understanding of the properties of a class of materials called topological insulators. "TIs are electrical insulators on the inside and conductors along their boundaries, and may hold great potential for helping build low-power, robust computers and devices, all defined at the atomic scale," said mechanical science and engineering professor and senior investigator Gaurav Bahl.


A single circuit board, foreground, that when joined with others forms the experimental array of the quadrupole topological insulator.

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

The uncommon properties of TIs make them a special form of electronic matter. "Collections of electrons can form their own phases within materials. These can be familiar solid, liquid and gas phases like water, but they can also sometimes form more unusual phases like a TI," said co-author and physics professor Taylor Hughes .

TIs typically exist in crystalline materials and other studies confirm TI phases present in naturally occurring crystals, but there are still many theoretical predictions that need to be confirmed, Hughes said.

One such prediction was the existence of a new type of TI having an electrical property known as a quadrupole moment. "Electrons are single particles that carry charge in a material," said physics graduate student Wladimir Benalcazar.

"We found that electrons in crystals can collectively arrange to give rise not only to charge dipole units - that is, pairings of positive and negative charges - but also high-order multipoles in which four or eight charges are brought together into a unit. The simplest member of these higher-order classes are quadrupoles in which two positive and two negative charges are coupled."

It is not currently feasible to engineer a material atom by atom, let alone control the quadrupolar behavior of electrons. Instead, the team built a workable-scale analogue of a QTI using a material created from printed circuit boards. Each circuit board holds a square of four identical resonators - devices that absorb electromagnetic radiation at a specific frequency. The boards are arranged in a grid pattern to create the full crystal analogue.

"Each resonator behaves as an atom, and the connections between them behave as bonds between atoms," said Kitt Peterson, the lead author and an electrical engineering graduate student. "We apply microwave radiation to the system and measure how much is absorbed by each resonator, which tells us about how electrons would behave in an analogous crystal. The more microwave radiation is absorbed by a resonator, the more likely it is to find an electron on the corresponding atom."

The detail that makes this a QTI and not a TI is a result of the specifics of the connections between resonators, the researchers said.

"The edges of a QTI are not conductive like you would see in a typical TI," Bahl said, "Instead only the corners are active, that is, the edges of the edges, and are analogous to the four localized point charges that would form what is known as a quadrupole moment. Exactly as Taylor and Wladimir predicted ."

"We measured how much microwave radiation each resonator within our QTI absorbed, confirming the resonant states in a precise frequency range and located precisely in the corners," Peterson said. "This pointed to the existence of predicted protected states that would be filled by electrons to form four corner charges."

Those corner charges of this new phase of electronic matter may be capable of storing data for communications and computing. "That may not seem realistic using our 'human scale' model," Hughes said. "However, when we think of QTIs on the atomic scale, tremendous possibilities become apparent for devices that perform computation and information processing, possibly even at scales below that we can achieve today."

The researchers said the agreement between experiment and prediction offered promise that scientists are beginning to understand the physics of QTIs well enough for practical use.

"As theoretical physicists, Wladimir and I could predict the existence of this new form of matter, but no material has been found to have these properties so far," Hughes said. "Collaborating with engineers helped turn our prediction into reality."

###

The National Science Foundation and U.S. Office of Naval Research supported this study.

Editor's notes:

To reach Gaurav Bahl, call 217-300-2194; bahl@illinois.edu.

To reach Taylor Hughes, call 217-333-1195; hughest@illinois.edu.

The paper "A quantized microwave quadrupole insulator with topologically protected corner states" is available online and from the U. of I. News Bureau.

DOI: 10.1038/nature25777

Media Contact

Lois E Yoksoulian
leyok@illinois.edu
217-244-2788

 @NewsAtIllinois

http://www.illinois.edu 

Lois E Yoksoulian | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Electrons atomic scale crystals insulators microwave radiation

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Understanding high efficiency of deep ultraviolet LEDs
22.02.2019 | Tohoku University

nachricht Large-scale window material developed for PM2.5 capture and light tuning
18.02.2019 | University of Science and Technology of China

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: (Re)solving the jet/cocoon riddle of a gravitational wave event

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, a so-called jet, emerging from the only gravitational wave event involving two neutron stars observed so far. With its high sensitivity and excellent performance, the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg played an important role in the observations.

In August 2017, two neutron stars were observed colliding, producing gravitational waves that were detected by the American LIGO and European Virgo detectors....

Im Focus: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

JILA researchers make coldest quantum gas of molecules

22.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Understanding high efficiency of deep ultraviolet LEDs

22.02.2019 | Materials Sciences

Russian scientists show changes in the erythrocyte nanostructure under stress

22.02.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>