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Scientists Find Twisting 3-D Raceway for Electrons in Nanoscale Crystal Slices
An international team of scientists working at the Molecular Foundry and ALS observed, for the first time, a quantum property known as “chirality” in cadmium arsenide.
Significance and Impact
The experiment provided a first step toward the goal of using chirality for transporting charge and energy through a material without loss, which offers a new approach to reducing waste energy in microchips.
- To measure the surface states of electrons in the material, the team used the Molecular Foundry’s focused ion beam to create slices of a cadmium arsenic crystal just 150 nanometers thick, without damaging the surface. The samples 3-D structure was detailed using X-rays at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source.
- The team studied how electric current travels in the crystal slices and found that electrons race through the surface and bulk in a way predicted by theoretical models.
P. J. W. Moll, N. L. Nair, T. Helm, A. C. Potter, I. Kimchi, A. Vishwanath & J. G. Analytis. Nature. 2016 535, 266–270.