The experimental realization of ultrathin graphene – which earned two scientists from Cambridge the Nobel Prize in physics in 2010 – has ushered in a new age in materials research.
What started with graphene has evolved to include numerous related single-atom-thick materials, which have unusual properties due to their ultra-thinness. Among them are transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), materials that offer several key features not available in graphene and are emerging as next-generation semiconductors.
TMDs could realize topological superconductivity and thus provide a platform for quantum computing – the ultimate goal of a Cornell research group led by Eun-Ah Kim, associate professor of physics.
“Our proposal is very realistic – that’s why it’s exciting,” Kim said of her group’s research. “We have a theoretical strategy to materialize a topological superconductor … and that will be a step toward building a quantum computer. The history of superconductivity over the last 100 years has been led by accidental discoveries. We have a proposal that’s sitting on firm principles.
“Instead of hoping for a new material that has the properties you want,” she said, “let’s go after it with insight and design principle.”