Designer materials with completely random structures might enable quantum computing

June 4, 2018, Aalto University
Randomly sprinkled magnetic atoms (red arrows) on a superconducting surface may give rise to a topological superconducting phase. Inset: The onset of the topological phase is signaled by the appearance of so-called Majorana edge mode encircling the system. Credit: Teemu Ojanen

Designing quantum materials with exotic and unprecedented electrical properties has the field of physics teeming with buzz. Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have now introduced a significant turn in this discussion by developing an amorphous material which exhibits topological superconductivity. Until this point, these materials have required highly regular structures to show desired electrical properties.

The findings, published in Nature Communications, bring the field one step closer to application. Topological superconductors and insulators are considered to be possible building blocks of lossless components for computers. While topological superconductors might not exist in nature, they can be fabricated, as the study demonstrates.

"We have presented a method of fabricating topological in amorphous systems with randomly placed constituents. This means we can achieve superconductivity in the material by sprinkling magnetic atoms on a superconducting surface completely at random, not in highly-defined and ornamented lattices, for example," explains doctoral student Kim Pöyhönen.

The recent boom on topological superconductors stems mainly from an unconventional quantum-level phenomenon, a collective movement of many individual particles called Majorana fermion excitations. They have been envisioned as critical ingredients of .

"Getting highly irregular, random systems to work as will potentially make their fabrication and manufacture much more convenient compared to current methods," says research group leader, Docent Teemu Ojanen.

Perhaps for now, the implications of the random quantum material verge only on fundamental research, but that might not be the case for much longer.

"For topological quantum matter to find its way to actual applications, it's imperative we find even more new candidates for amorphous topological materials," states Ojanen.

Explore further: Novel thermal phases of topological quantum matter in the lab

More information: Kim Pöyhönen et al. Amorphous topological superconductivity in a Shiba glass, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04532-x

Related Stories

Novel insulators with conducting edges

June 1, 2018

Physicists at the University of Zurich are researching a new class of materials: Higher-order topological insulators. The edges of these crystalline solids conduct electric current without dissipation, while the rest of the ...

Theoretical quantum spin liquid prepared for the first time

March 15, 2018

In 1987, Paul W. Anderson, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, proposed that high-temperature superconductivity, or loss of electrical resistance, is related to an exotic quantum state now known as quantum spin liquid. Magnetic ...

Recommended for you

The hunt for leptoquarks is on

September 19, 2018

Matter is made of elementary particles, and the Standard Model of particle physics states that these particles occur in two families: leptons (such as electrons and neutrinos) and quarks (which make up protons and neutrons). ...

Searching for errors in the quantum world

September 19, 2018

The theory of quantum mechanics is well supported by experiments. Now, however, a thought experiment by ETH physicists yields unexpected contradictions. These findings raise some fundamental questions—and they're polarising ...

Researchers push the boundaries of optical microscopy

September 19, 2018

The field of optical microscopy research has developed rapidly in recent years. Thanks to the invention of a technique called super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, it has recently become possible to view even the smaller ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.