Scientists have demonstrated that wires more than 100 times thinner than a human hair can act like a quantum one-way street for electrons when made of a peculiar material known as a topological insulator.
The discovery opens the pathway for new technological applications of devices made from topological insulators and demonstrates a significant step on the road to achieving so-called topological qubits, which it has been predicted can robustly encode information for a quantum computer.
Topological insulators are materials in which a combination of quantum mechanics and the mathematical concept of topology produce conductive surfaces and insulating interiors. Topological insulators are highly promising candidates for future technologies and as potential platforms for quantum computing.
The researchers were able to show that, under the right circumstances, electric currents can flow more easily in one direction compared to the other, a process known as rectification. Rectification offers a wide range of applications and forms the basis of most wireless technologies. (Phys.org)
The study has been published in Nature Nanotechnology.