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For more than a decade, two-dimensional sheets of carbon atoms known as graphene have captured researchers’ imaginations. Last year, it was predicted that electronic states in narrow strips of graphene — dubbed graphene nanoribbons — could have different topologies depending on the width of the strip1. In two papers in Nature, Rizzo et al.2 and Gröning et al.3 report experiments that confirm this prediction. Their results show that graphene nanoribbons provide a flexible and highly precise platform for designing and fabricating materials that have what is known as a non-trivial topology. The authors suggest that such materials could be used to realize desired exotic topological states for quantum technologies.