The Strange Topology That Is Reshaping Physics
Topological effects might be hiding inside perfectly ordinary materials, waiting to reveal bizarre new particles or bolster quantum computing
Charles Kane never thought he would be cavorting with topologists. “I don’t think like a mathematician,” admits Kane, a theoretical physicist who has tended to focus on tangible problems about solid materials. He is not alone. Physicists have typically paid little attention to topology—the mathematical study of shapes and their arrangement in space. But now Kane and other physicists are flocking to the field.
In the past decade, they have found that topology provides unique insight into the physics of materials, such as how some insulators can sneakily conduct electricity along a single-atom layer on their surfaces.
Some of these topological effects were uncovered in the 1980s, but only in the past few years have researchers begun to realize that they could…
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