Researchers at the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) have created a novel instrument that can help reveal the origin of electronic states in engineered materials, paving the way for their use in future quantum technology applications.

Assistant Professor Shuolong Yang and his team developed this innovative tool to enhance the understanding of magnetic topological insulators—materials with unique surface faetures that may play a crucial role in the advancement of quantum information science technologies.

Through a technique called layer-encoded frequency-domain photoemission, researchers send two laser pulses into a layered material. The resulting vibrations, coupled with the measurement of energy, allows researchers to piece together a “movie” that shows how electrons move in each layer.

“In our daily life, when we want to better understand a material — to understand its composition or if it’s hollow — we knock on it,” Yang said. “This is a similar approach at a microscopic level. Our new technique allows us to ‘knock and listen’ to layered materials, and it allowed us to show that one particular magnetic topological insulator works differently than theory predicts.”

The results were published in the journal Nature Physics.

To read more, click here.