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Quantum particles can be difficult to characterize, and almost impossible to control if they strongly interact with each other -- until now.

An international team of researchers led by Princeton physicist Zahid Hasan has discovered a quantum state of matter that can be "tuned" at will -- and it's 10 times more tuneable than existing theories can explain. This level of manipulability opens enormous possibilities for next-generation nanotechnologies and quantum computing.

"We found a new control knob for the quantum topological world," said Hasan, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics. "We expect this is tip of the iceberg. There will be a new subfield of materials or physics grown out of this. ... This would be a fantastic playground for nanoscale engineering."

Hasan and his colleagues, whose research appears in the current issue of Nature, are calling their discovery a "novel" quantum state of matter because it is not explained by existing theories of material properties.

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Category: Science