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Volume 15 Issue 6, June 2020

Pure polymers are usually bad conductors because of a sizeable electronic band gap around the Fermi level. However, one-dimensional (1D) π-conjugated polymers can become conducting when their π-electron system is tweaked to the transition from one resonant structure to another. Concomitantly, this change in the conjugation constitutes a topological phase transition from a trivial to a non-trivial phase. Borja Cirera et al. now approach this transition point by on-surface synthesis. They produce polymers of both phases, but close to the phase transition and experimentally determine the topology of the π-electrons. The polymers closest to the transition then indeed show very narrow band gaps.

The cover art shows the distribution of an electronic edge state located at the termini of the 1D polymer on the gold surface. This state is a fingerprint of the topologically non-trivial nature of the polymer.

Article Ecija; N&Vs by Corso

IMAGE: Image courtesy of Martin Pykal, Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials, Czech Republic. COVER DESIGN: Bethany Vukomanovic

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