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Researchers in China and at UC Davis have measured high conductivity in very thin layers of niobium arsenide, a type of material called a Weyl semimetal. The material has about three times the conductivity of copper at room temperature, said Sergey Savrasov, professor of physics at UC Davis. Savrasov is a coauthor on the paper published March 18 in Nature Materials.
New materials that conduct electricity are of great interest to physicists and materials scientists, both for basic research and because they could lead to new types of electronic devices.
Savrasov - Matter - Physics - Others - Existence
Savrasov works on theoretical condensed matter physics. With others, he proposed the existence of Weyl semimetals in 2011. The Chinese team were able to fabricate and test small pieces, called nanobelts, of niobium arsenide, confirming the predictions of theory. The nanobelts are so thin they are essentially two-dimensional.
"A Weyl semimetal is not a conductor or an insulator, but something in between," Savrasov said. Niobium arsenide, for example, is a poor conductor in bulk but has a metallic surface that conducts electricity. The surface is topologically protected, meaning that it cannot be changed without destroying the bulk...
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