Insight |

Quantum materials

Research on quantum materials brings together scientists working on a variety of problems at the frontiers of physics, materials science and engineering. The properties of these systems are uniquely defined by quantum mechanical effects that remain manifest at high temperatures and macroscopic length scales.

This joint Nature Physics and Nature Materials Insight explores the physics of quantum materials, their synthesis and design, the control over their properties, and the functionality that emerges from these properties.

This Insight is produced with the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Simons Foundation. As always, Nature Research takes sole responsibility for the editorial content.

Free Content

This Review surveys the electronic properties of quantum materials through the prism of the electron wavefunction, and examines how its entanglement and topology give rise to a rich variety of quantum states and phases.

Review Article | | Nature Physics

Topology and collective phenomena give quantum materials emergent functions that provide a platform for developing next-generation quantum technologies, as surveyed in this Review.

Review Article | | Nature Physics

Specialized imaging methods are now available to measure the quantum properties of materials with high sensitivity and resolution. These techniques are key to the design, synthesis and understanding of materials with exotic functionalities.

Commentary | | Nature Materials

The emergent phenomena that characterize quantum materials have received prominent exposure thanks to experimental techniques based on photoemission. In turn, the challenges and opportunities presented by quantum materials have driven improvements in the photoemission technology itself.

Commentary | | Nature Physics

From the archive

Emergent phenomena are common in condensed matter. Their study now extends beyond strongly correlated electron systems, giving rise to the broader concept of quantum materials.

Editorial | | Nature Physics

This Perspective discusses recent progress in the field of topological states in condensed matter; initiated by the quantum Hall effect, it now includes systems like topological insulators, topological superconductors, and Weyl/Dirac semimetals.

Perspective | | Nature Materials

From magnetism, ferroelectricity and superconductivity to electrical and thermal properties, oxides show a broad range of phenomena of fundamental as well as practical relevance. Reviewed here are the emergent phenomena arising at the interface between oxide materials, which have attracted considerable interest based on advances in thin-film deposition techniques.

Review Article | | Nature Materials

The term 'high-temperature superconductor' used to refer only to copper-based compounds — now, iron-based pnictides have entered the frame. The comparison of these two types of superconductor is revealing, and suggestive of what might be needed to achieve even higher transition temperatures.

Perspective | | Nature Physics

Collective quantum phenomena such as magnetism, superfluidity and superconductivity have been pre-eminent themes of condensed-matter physics in the past century. Neutron scattering has provided unique insights into the microscopic origin of these phenomena.

Commentary | | Nature Materials

Monolayer films of iron selenide deposited on strontium titanate display signatures of superconductivity at temperatures as high as 109 K. These recent developments may herald a flurry of exciting findings concerning superconductivity at interfaces.

Commentary | | Nature Physics

Physicists have discovered a new topological phase of matter, the Weyl semimetal, whose surface features a non-closed Fermi surface whereas the low-energy quasiparticles in the bulk emerge as Weyl fermions. A brief review of these developments and perspectives on the next steps forward are presented.

Commentary | | Nature Materials

Topological semimetals and metals have emerged as a new frontier in the field of quantum materials. Novel macroscopic quantum phenomena they exhibit are not only of fundamental interest, but may hold some potential for technological applications.

Commentary | | Nature Materials

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”.

Editorial | | Nature Physics

Topological semimetals give access to new quantum phenomena — for example, massless fermions have not been observed as elementary particles, yet they can be realized in the form of quasiparticles in these materials — and could allow the development of robust quantum devices.

Editorial | | Nature Materials

Quasiparticles are an extremely useful concept that provides a more intuitive understanding of complex phenomena in many-body physics. As such, they appear in various contexts, linking ideas across different fields and supplying a common language.

Feature | | Nature Physics

Substantial progress in the past decade in the fabrication and modelling of atomically precise interfaces and surfaces has led to the discovery of many electronic effects that are of interest for practical devices with novel functionalities. Christos Panagopoulos and colleagues review various such effects—and their technological potential—with a focus on the role of spin–orbit coupling, the fundamental interaction between the spin and charge degrees of freedom of an electron. Spin–orbit coupling can affect the electronic properties of materials at reduced dimensions, and the authors discuss the basic principles for understanding and engineering interfaces and surfaces in which spin–orbit coupling is harnessed. Examples are structures based on topological insulators where spin currents are generated or converted and magnetic layers where spin–orbit coupling leads to spin textures that can be controlled.

Review Article | | Nature

Since the discovery of high temperature copper oxide superconductors nearly thirty years ago, much has been learned about the nature of the superconducting state and the novel forms of quantum matter involved. This Review concentrates on the related issues that have not been resolved, notably the complexity of the phase diagram for the copper oxides, and the simplicity and insensitivity to material details of the 'normal' state at elevated temperatures.

Review Article | | Nature

Andre Geim and Irina Grigorieva offer a forward-looking review of the potential of layering two-dimensional materials into novel heterostructures held together by weak van der Waals interactions. Dozens of these one-atom- or one-molecule-thick crystals are known. Graphene has already been well studied but others, such as monolayers of hexagonal boron nitride, MoS2, WSe2, graphane, fluorographene, mica and silicene are attracting increasing interest. There are many other monolayers yet to be examined of course, and the possibility of combining graphene with other crystals adds even further options, offering exciting new opportunities for scientific exploration and technological innovation.

Perspective | | Nature

Klaus von Klitzing tells the story of the quantum Hall effect's impact on metrology.

Measure for Measure | | Nature Physics

Magnetic skyrmions are topologically protected spin whirls that hold promise for applications because they can be controllably moved, created and annihilated. In this Review, the underlying physics of the stabilization of skyrmions at room temperature and their prospective use for spintronic applications are discussed.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Materials