Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated the first material that can have both strongly correlated electron interactions and topological properties. This discovery not only paves the way for more stable quantum computing but also an entirely new platform to explore the wild world of exotic physics.
Topological insulators are materials that can conduct electricity on their surface or edge but not in the middle. The strange thing about these materials is that no matter how you cut them, the surface will always be conducting and the middle always insulating.
One potential material, samarium hexaboride, has been questioned whether it is or not a topological insulator. The team discovered that the momentum of the electrons in this material is directly proportional to their energy.
Strongly interacting topological materials may be able to protect qubits from forgetting their quantum state, a process called decoherence. If quantum information can be encoded in a topologically protected state, it is less susceptible to external noise. So the team work demonstrates a first in a single topological material that harnesses strong electron interactions that might eventually be used for topological quantum computing. (Phys.org)