The findings, the work of scientists at New York University, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Rutgers University, and MIT, are reported in the journal Nature Physics.
"This sort of relationship is essential to understanding a quantum electron system -- and the foundation of all movement -- but had often been studied from a theoretical standpoint and not thought of as observable through experiments," explains Andrew Wray, an assistant professor in NYU's Department of Physics and one of the paper's co-authors. "Remarkably, this work reveals a diversity of energetic environments inside the same material, allowing for comparisons that let us spot how electrons shift between states."
Scientists - Work - Bismuth - Selenide - Bi2Se3
The scientists focused their work on bismuth selenide, or Bi2Se3, a material that has been under intense investigation for the last decade as the basis of advanced information and quantum computing technologies. Research in 2008 and 2009 identified bismuth selenide to host a rare "topological insulator" quantum state that changes the way electrons at its surface interact with and store information.
Studies since then have confirmed a number of theoretically inspired ideas about topological insulator surface electrons. However, because these particles are on a material's surface, they are exposed to environmental factors not present in the bulk of the material, causing them to manifest and move in different ways from region to region.
Knowledge - Gap
The resulting knowledge gap, together with...
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