Creating Organic Topological Insulators

Guest_Jim_* - February 28, 2013 04:29PM in Science & Technology

Many things have been called exotic until they become well understood, but I would not be surprised if topological insulators always bear that description. These special materials conductor electrons with little resistance on their surface but block electrons within the volume. Now researchers at the University of Utah have discovered a way to produce organic versions of these, which could have a profound effect on the future uses of topological insulators.

The key feature of topological insulators is the boundary between their conductive surface and resistive volume as there weird and wonderful phenomena take place. Among these phenomena is one that will preserve the spin of an electron travelling on the surface, which is very valuable for possible spintronic and quantum computers. What the researchers have done is shown that it should be possible to create an interface between two thin films that will make the larger material a topological insulator. Specifically the researchers examined organometallic compounds that contain both carbon and metals.

Thus far the work has only been theoretical but it could spark a surge of new research within the field of organic topological insulators. As organic materials are typically cheaper to produce and work with than inorganics, such a surge could truly change the future of technology by making some of the next generation of computing technologies less expensive and more powerful.

Source: University of Utah