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Topological insulators open up a path to room-temperature spintronics

from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Strong three dimensional topological insulators — experimentally discovered just a few years ago — are driving new vistas in condensed matter physics research. Topical insulators can be imagined as being insulators in their interiors, but having a conductive thin shell at the surface. But there is more to it than that. The direction and spin of the surface electrons are locked together and change in concert. The mobile electrons cannot be scattered by defects or other perturbations, and they meet little to no resistance as they travel. A recent angle-resolved photoemission spectrometry study of Bi2Se3, published in Physical Review Letters, revealed a Dirac point between the valence and conduction bands, similar to that found in graphene. But unlike graphene the spin-locking property of TIs is clearly evident from their Fermi surfaces. more

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