Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > A 'nanoscale landscape' controls flow of surface electrons on a topological insulator: Stripe-like contours on a surface modulate electrons that behave like light

Abstract:
In the relatively new scientific frontier of topological insulators, theoretical and experimental physicists have been studying the surfaces of these unique materials for insights into the behavior of electrons that display some very un-electron-like properties.

A 'nanoscale landscape' controls flow of surface electrons on a topological insulator: Stripe-like contours on a surface modulate electrons that behave like light

Chestnut Hill, MA | Posted on October 25th, 2012

In topological insulators, electrons can behave more like photons, or particles of light. The hitch is that unlike photons, electrons have a mass that normally plays a defining role in their behavior. In the world of quantum physics, where everyday materials take on surprising and sometimes astonishing properties, electrons on the outer surface of these insulators behave and look uncharacteristically like light.

These unique properties have piqued the interests of scientists who see future applications in areas such as quantum computing and spintronics, or other realms rooted in the manipulation of electronic properties. The early challenge to those researchers is to begin to understand some simple ground rules for controlling these materials.

Boston College researchers report that the placement of tiny ripples on the surface of a topological insulator engineered from bismuth telluride effectively modulates so-called Dirac electrons so they flow in a pathway that perfectly mirrors the topography of the crystal's surface.

Associate Professor of Physics Vidya Madhavan and Assistant Professor of Physics Stephen Wilson report in the current online edition of Nature Communications that scanning tunneling microscopy is capable of revealing the characteristics of these tiny waves as they rise and fall, enabling the researchers to draw a direct connection between the features of the ripples and modulation of the waves across the material's surface.

Instead of chaotic behavior, the electrons flow in a path that mirrors the metal composite's surface, the team reports in an articled titled "Ripple-modulated electronic structure of a 3D topological insulator."

"What we've discovered is that electrons respond beautifully to this buckling of the material's surface," said Madhavan, the project director.

So harmoniously do the waves flow across the ripples - placed approximately 100 nanometers apart - that the researchers say further modifications of the crystal's "nanoscale landscape" could produce enough control to produce a one-dimensional quantum wire capable of carrying current with no dissipation.

The rippled surface appears to exert greater control and run less risk of creating imperfections than other methods, such as introducing chemical dopants, used in attempts to modulate the flow of electrons on the surface of other topological insulators, the researchers found.

Madhavan said the team had to provoke the electrons, which lay placidly atop the surface-state of the insulator, much like the glassy surface of an undisturbed lake. The team disrupted the electrons by introducing impurities, which had an effect similar to that of dropping a stone in a calm lake. This provocation produced waves of electrons that behave like waves of light as they travel pathways that mirror the contours created in the crystal.

"We did not expect the electrons to follow the topography," said Madhavan. "The topography imposes a sinusoidal potential upon the waves. The ripples create that potential by giving the electrons a landscape to follow. This is a way of possibly manipulating these electrons in topological insulators."

In addition to Madhavan and Wilson, the project team included post-doctoral researcher Yoshinori Okada and graduate students Wenwen Zhou, Daniel Walkup and Chetan Dhital.

NOTE: The report "Ripple-modulated electronic structure of a 3D topological insulator" can be cited via a digital object identifier (DOI) number. The DOI for this article is 10.1038/ncomms2150.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Ed Hayward

617-552-4826

Copyright © Boston College

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier: Rice U., Northwestern researchers make and test atom-thick boron's unique domains July 17th, 2018

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

Spintronics

Diamonds show promise for spintronic devices: New experiments demonstrate the potential for diamond as a material for spintronics January 30th, 2018

Researchers from TU Delft combine spintronics and nanophotonics in 2-D material January 25th, 2018

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Chip Technology

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nanometrics to Announce Second Quarter Financial Results on July 31, 2018 July 12th, 2018

Leti and Soitec Launch a New Substrate Innovation Center to Develop Engineered Substrate Solutions: Industry-inclusive hub promotes early collaboration and learning from substrate to system level July 11th, 2018

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Surpasses $2 Billion in Design Win Revenue on 22FDX Technology : With 50 client designs and growing, 22FDX proves its value as a cost-effective solution for power-sensitive applications July 9th, 2018

Quantum Computing

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

A refined magnetic sense: Algorithms and hardware developed in the context of quantum computation are shown to be useful for quantum-enhanced sensing of magnetic fields July 2nd, 2018

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Evidence for a new property of quantum matter revealed: Electrical dipole activity detected in a quantum material unlike any other tested June 11th, 2018

Discoveries

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier: Rice U., Northwestern researchers make and test atom-thick boron's unique domains July 17th, 2018

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

Announcements

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier: Rice U., Northwestern researchers make and test atom-thick boron's unique domains July 17th, 2018

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project