Electrons zip along quantum highways in a new material

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Scientists showed how MnBi6T10, shown here in purple (tellurium), blue (bismuth) and green (manganese), can act as a magnetic topological insulator, conducting electric current (blue) along a “quantum highway” without energy loss. The study revealed that the coordinated action of different physical defects is key to quantum electronic properties. Credit: University of Chicago

Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) have discovered a new material, MnBi6T10, which can be used to create quantum paths along which electrons can move. These electron methods are likely to be useful in connecting the internal components of powerful, energy-efficient quantum computers.

When Electrons Moving through conventional metal wires, they lose a small amount of energy – as heat changes – and some of their intrinsic properties change. Therefore, these wires cannot be used to connect parts of quantum computers that encode data in the quantum properties of electrons.

In the new work published in the magazine nano messagesthe researchers detailed how MnBi6T10 It acts as a “magnetic topological insulator”, moving electrons around its surroundings while preserving the electrons’ energy and quantum properties.

“We’ve discovered a material that has the potential to unlock the quantum superhighway for electrons to flow without dissipation,” Asst said. Professor Shuolong Yang, who led the research. “This is an important milestone toward engineering topological quantum computers.”

Quantum Communication

Quantum computers store data in qubits, a basic unit of information that exhibits quantum properties including superposition. At the same time, researchers are working to develop devices that link such qubits — sometimes in the form of single electrons — they also need new materials that can transmit the information stored in these qubits.

Theoretical physicists have proposed that electrons can travel between topological qubits by forcing electrons to flow in a one-dimensional conduction channel at the edge of matter. Previous attempts to do this required extremely low temperatures that are not feasible for most applications.

“The reason we decided to look at this particular material is because we thought it would perform at a more realistic temperature,” Yang said.

Yang’s group began to study MnBi6T10Using manganese to introduce magnetization to a semiconductor composed of bismuth and tellurium. While electrons flow randomly throughout the interior of most semiconductors, magnetic field in MnBi6T10 It forces all electrons in a single coil line on the outer surface of the material.

PME Researchers Obtain MnBi6T10 It was manufactured by collaborators in the 2D Crystal Consortium at Penn State University, led by Zhiqiang Mao. Then the team used a combination of two methods –angular optical emission spectroscopy And the transmission electron microscope (TEM) – to study exactly how electrons work inside MnBi6T10 It behaves and how the movement of electrons varies with magnetic states. TEM experiments were performed in collaboration with the Pennsylvania State University Laboratory at Naseem Alem.

Desirable defects

When they probe the properties of MnBi6T10One thing baffled the research team at first: Some pieces of the material seemed to work just as well as magnetic topological insulators, while others didn’t.

“Some of them had the desired electronic properties and some didn’t, and the interesting thing is that it was very difficult to tell the difference in their structures,” Yang said. “We saw the same thing when we did structural measurements like X-ray diffraction, so it was a bit mysterious.”

Through their experiments on TEM, they discovered that all MnBi . pieces6T10 The ones that worked had one thing in common: flaws in the form of missing manganese scattered throughout the material. Further experiments showed that these defects were indeed required to drive the magnetic state and enable electrons to flow.

“The very high value of this work, and for the first time, we figured out how to tune these defects to enable quantum properties,” Yang said.

Researchers are now pursuing new ways to grow MnBi6T10 Crystals in the lab, in addition to examining what happens with ultra-thin two-dimensional copies of the material.

more information:
Chenhui Yan et al, Microferromagnetism in MnBi6T10And the nano messages (2022). DOI: 10.1021 / acs.nanolett.2c02500

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University of Chicago


the quote: Electrons zip along quantum highways in new material (November 9, 2022) Retrieved November 9, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-electrons-quantum-highways-material.html

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