The search for better materials for computers and other electronic devices has focused on a group of materials known as "topological insulators" that have a special property of conducting electricity on the edge of their surfaces like traffic lanes on a highway. This can increase energy efficiency and reduce heat output.



The first experimentally demonstrated in 2009 was bismuth-antimony, but only recently did researchers identify pure bismuth as a new type of topological insulator. A group of researchers in Europe and the U.S. provided both experimental evidence and theoretical analysis in a 2018 Nature Physics report.


Now, researchers at MIT along with colleagues in Boston, Singapore, and Taiwan have conducted a to reveal several more previously unidentified topological properties of bismuth. The team was led by senior authors MIT Associate Professor Liang Fu, MIT Professor Nuh Gedik, Northeastern University Distinguished Professor Arun Bansil, and Research Fellow Hsin Lin at Academica Sinica in Taiwan.


"It's kind of a hidden topology where people did not know that it can be that way," says MIT postdoc Su-Yang Xu, a coauthor of the paper published recently in PNAS.

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