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Topological nanomaterials

Abstract

The past decade has witnessed the emergence of a new frontier in condensed matter physics: topological materials with an electronic band structure belonging to a different topological class from that of ordinary insulators and metals. This non-trivial band topology gives rise to robust, spin-polarized electronic states with linear energy–momentum dispersion at the edge or surface of the materials. For topological materials to be useful in electronic devices, precise control and accurate detection of the topological states must be achieved in nanostructures, which can enhance the topological states because of their large surface-to-volume ratios. In this Review, we discuss notable synthesis and electron transport results of topological nanomaterials, from topological insulator nanoribbons and plates to topological crystalline insulator nanowires and Weyl and Dirac semimetal nanobelts. We also survey superconductivity in topological nanowires, a nanostructure platform that might enable the controlled creation of Majorana bound states for robust quantum computations. Two material systems that can host Majorana bound states are compared: spin–orbit coupled semiconducting nanowires and topological insulating nanowires, a focus of this Review. Finally, we consider the materials and measurement challenges that must be overcome before topological nanomaterials can be used in next-generation electronic devices.

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Fig. 1: Historical timeline of the synthesis of nanostructures of topological materials.
Fig. 2: Topological insulators, topological crystalline insulators, and Dirac and Weyl semimetallic nanostructures.
Fig. 3: Historical timeline of transport measurements in topological nanostructures.
Fig. 4: Aharonov–Bohm effects of topological surface states in TI and TCI nanostructures.
Fig. 5: Superconducting transitions in various InxSn1xTe nanostructures.
Fig. 6: Electron transport studies of Weyl and Dirac semimetals.
Fig. 7: 1D topological superconductors.
Fig. 8: Controlling and detecting Majorana bound states in topological insulator nanowires.
Fig. 9: Josephson junctions.

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Acknowledgements

P.L. is supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) DMR 1743896. J.R.W. acknowledges support from NSF DMR 1743913. J.J.C. acknowledges support from the US Department of Energy DE-SC0014476.

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Liu, P., Williams, J.R. & Cha, J.J. Topological nanomaterials. Nat Rev Mater 4, 479–496 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41578-019-0113-4

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