Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Physicists Help Discover Material that Could Improve Energy Efficiency in Electronics

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Leonard SpinuLeonard Spinu, university research professor of physics in the Department of Physics and Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI)

Researchers from the University of New Orleans are part of a team that has discovered a new material that could advance efforts to create more energy-efficient electronics.

Leonard Spinu, university research professor of physics in the Department of Physics and Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI), along with UNO graduate students Ali Radmanesh and Daniel Adams, helped carry out high magnetic field measurements needed for the study, which resulted in the discovery of a new magnetic topological semimetal that acts as if it has no mass.

Findings from the work are featured in the latest edition of the prestigious journal Nature Materials.

The research was led by Zhiqiang Mao at the Tulane Quantum Materials Research group in collaboration with researchers at UNO, LSU, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Tallahassee and Los Alamos and Florida State University.

"The recent discoveries of topological materials—a new class of quantum materials—hold hold great promise for use in energy saving electronics," Mao said in a press release sent out by Tulane. The phrase "topological materials" refers to those materials where the current carrying particles act as if they have no mass, similar to the properties of photons, the particles that make up light.

"The result is expected to improve fundamental understanding of fascinating properties of topological semimetals," Mao said.

Spinu said UNO was particularly well-positioned to conduct needed measurements for the work thanks to its AMRI equipment. Radmanesh helped with the high magnetic field measurements carried out at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, while Daniel Adams helped with the measurements carried at AMRI up to 14 teslas, which measure the strength of a magnetic field.

“We have a unique platform for making these measurements,” Spinu said.

The work, which was mostly conducted in 2015, was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Louisiana Board of Regents.

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