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Weird materials could make faster computers

Topological insulators could speed up switching between 1s and 0s

3:27pm, July 23, 2014

One of science’s newest wonder materials may find its way into computers.

A study published in the July 24 Nature reveals that electrons coursing through the materials known as topological insulators can manipulate magnetic components like the ones in computer memory. The research represents one of the first attempts to find real-world uses for topological insulators.

“This is the first proposal I have seen … which does not appear to be prima facie absurd,” says Sankar Das Sarma, a condensed matter theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park. “Purely scientifically, this proposal makes sense.”

Since predicting the existence of topological insulators in 2005, physicists have salivated over the materials’ unique properties (SN: 5/22/10, p. 22). For the most part

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