Physicists from the University of Central Florida have created a new quantum material capable of switching between two separate electron formations. The first of it’s kind – this material is expected to have a wide range of implications including data and power storage in the age of Quantum technology
Unlike ordinary matter, whose molecules are bulky, scattered and disorganized, quantum materials are characterized by a series of interlocking geometric compounds that can trap subatomic particles inside of their microscopic symmetry.
Since crystals are also known for the recurring geometric arrangement of atoms and molecules at the microscopic scale, technically speaking – quantum materials are a type of man made crystal. That is why for the longest time, scientists proposed we use diamonds to contain quantum memory.
However the biggest difference between a natural crystal and an artificial quantum material is that crystals do not conduct electricity unless you squeeze them really hard (piezo-eletric effect)
Essentially Scientists have figured how to build from scratch conducive crystalline materials that are capable of using and storing energy at the subatomic level. They do this by experimentally combining elements together to create various shapes until they create a compound that can both connect well with other shapes of the same compound and contain electricity or in some cases – photons (light).
This type of interlocking geometry is vital to the formation of a quantum material since it needs to lock up subatomic particles in order to store them properly. Quantum materials are key to developing the extraordinary capability of quantum computers and long-lasting memory devices. Presently, we store energy and information on microchips made of silicon and metal wiring but imagine if we could store energy/info inside of the spaces between microscopic compounds. It would drastically reduce the energy and resources required to both produce and maintain storage.
Most quantum materials only have one “quantum state” that is they can only store their subatomic particles in a particular formation. However this compound created by UCF called Hf2Te2P is able to form more than one kind of hexagonal geometry as far electron placement is concerned. It is composed of hafnium, tellurium and phosphorus.
“Our discovery takes us one step closer to the application of quantum materials and helps us gain a deeper understanding of the interactions between various quantum phases,” Neupane said.