Monday September 25th 2017

The wild weirdness of topological insulators

tiFor more than 200 years, physicists have wanted to understand why electricity flows through some materials and not others. In some of the first experiments aimed at understanding conductivity, at the start of the 18th century, British autodidact Stephen Gray observed that materials like metals (and some vegetables) conduct electricity, whereas others, like silk or wool, don’t. Decades later, in his Philadelphia experiments, Benjamin Franklin used glass as an insulator and metal as a conductor to study electrical discharges from lightning. In the 20th century, quantum physics provided scientists with new tools to probe the properties of electrons, research that—in the early 21st century—has fueled the discovery and understanding of exotic quantum states of matter.

Read more here.

More from category

How Bose–Einstein condensates keep revealing weird physics
How Bose–Einstein condensates keep revealing weird physics

A Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), the first of which was shown experimentally 22 years ago, isn’t your garden variety [Read More]

How nonequilibrium thermodynamics speaks to the mystery of life
How nonequilibrium thermodynamics speaks to the mystery of life

In his 1944 book What is Life?, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger argued that organisms stay alive precisely by [Read More]

The return of supersolids!
The return of supersolids!

We learn it from a young age: solids hold their shapes; liquids flow. Physical states of matter are mutually exclusive. [Read More]

Every breath we take
Every breath we take

Back in Christmas 2013, the CineStar cinema in Mainz, Germany, became an impromptu, oversized laboratory. Over the [Read More]

Archives