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A topological insulator can conduct a current along its outside edges, despite its insulating properties. Theory predicts this current is unaffected by material defects, but experimentally, researchers have only seen uninterrupted conductance over short distances in 2D topological insulators. Now, Marco Polini, of both the Italian Institute of Technology and Manchester University, UK, and his colleagues have developed a theory that explains this breakdown in conductance. Understanding the origin of this phenomenon could allow researchers to design 2D topological insulators without conductance breakdown, increasing the potential applications of these materials, which include quantum computing.

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Category: Science