Thousands of Exotic ‘Topological’ Materials Discovered through Sweeping Search

August 29, 2018

The interference patterns, modelled by a computer, formed by quantum waves in a material known as a topological insulator.
Credit: A. Yazdani/SPL

The already buzzing field of topological physics could be about to explode. For the first time, researchers have systematically scoured through entire databases of materials in search of ones that harbour topological states — exotic phases of matter that have fascinated physicists for a decade. The results show that thousands of known materials probably have topological properties — and perhaps up to 24% of materials in all. [...]

Until now, physicists had largely relied on complex theoretical calculations to predict whether a specific material should harbour topological states. But in 2017, teams led by Andrei Bernevig, a physicist at Princeton University in New Jersey, and Ashvin Vishwanath, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, separately pioneered approaches that greatly speed up the search process. They use algorithms to sort materials automatically into databases on basis of their chemistry and properties that result from symmetries in their structure...

Continue reading "Thousands of exotic ‘topological’ materials discovered through sweeping search" by Elizabeth Gibney, Nature, 08 August 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05913-4.

Also read Tang, F., H. C. Po, A. Vishwanath, and X. Wan, "Towards ideal topological materials: Comprehensive database searches using symmetry indicators," arXiv (2018). https://arxiv.org/pdf/1807.09744.