In the past decade, researchers have tried a variety of techniques to understand the peculiar properties of topological insulators—exotic materials with conductive surfaces but insulating interiors. A recent approach involves an optical technique called high harmonics generation (HHG). Now, researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California have modeled the process of HHG in the topological insulator bismuth selenide, predicting that the material’s surface and bulk should react differently to linearly and circularly polarized light [1]. The work suggests a new way to probe topological insulators and their exotic behaviors.

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