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Physics on the Edge

Electrons get moving along the surfaces of a new class of materials

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3:30pm, May 7, 2010

PHYSICS ON THE EDGE  Scientists are exploring new types of crystals, called topological insulators, that conduct electricity at their surface but not in their interior. The image above reveals how electrons scatter on the surface of a bismuth-based material. 

For the hottest thing in condensed-matter physics, check out the local liquor store. Hidden inside a device for chilling wine is the unusual compound called bismuth telluride.

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