From Quantum Matter to Better Electronics
The laws determining how atoms behave are simple and few—yet, matter comes in endless varieties, some of which likely still haven’t been discovered. Condensed matter physics tries to explain different states of matter, as well as to predict new ones.
Topological insulators are a particularly fascinating example of a new state of matter, and are the research focus of Dr. Joseph Maciejko, Canada Research Chair in Condensed Matter Theory.
Ranked among the top 10 scientific discoveries that year, topological insulators were first discovered in 2007. They are a unique class of quantum materials, able to conduct electricity on their surfaces while losing little or no heat. In general, quantum materials are substances that, when subjected to extremely low temperatures, develop superconductivity, as well as unusual forms of magnetism and other physical qualities not yet fully understood.
Quantum mechanics explores how the particles comprising atoms work. Maciejko and his research team are developing mathematical models based on the laws of quantum mechanics to understand and predict the properties of topological insulators. If their properties can be used in microprocessors, topological insulators could lead to innovative, more energy-efficient tablet computers and similar electronic devices.
Maciejko's research is contributing to our understanding of quantum matter, and could lead to groundbreaking developments in personal electronics, as well as other technological breakthroughs.