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A Sea of Spinning Electrons

The blue and red cones show the energy and momentum of surface electrons in a 3D topological insulator. The spin structure is shown in the blue and red arrows at the top and bottom, respectively.

Researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and the University of Florida have discovered the chiral spin mode, a sea of electrons spinning in opposing circles.

Credit: Hsiang-Hsi Kung/Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and the University of Florida say they have found a sea of electrons that spin in opposing circles, a phenomenon known as the chiral spin mode.

"We discovered a new collective spin mode that can be used to transport energy or information with very little energy dissipation, and it can be a platform for building novel electronic devices such as computers and processors," says Rutgers professor Girsh Blumberg.

The research involved using a specialized, ultra-sensitive spectrometer to study a prototype three-dimensional topological insulator, while a microscopic theoretical model predicted the chiral spin mode's energy and temperature evolution.

The chiral spin mode is borne from the sea of electrons on the insulator's surface, and the electrons' spinning axes are level and perpendicular to their velocity.

Chiral spin modes stem naturally from the surface of such materials, but crystalline defects previously made their observation impossible--a problem addressed by the development of ultra-clean crystals.

From Rutgers Today
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