Topological Insulators and Superconductors

Coordinators: Charles Kane, Andreas Ludwig, Joel Moore, Xiaoliang Qi

Scientific Advisors: Zahid Hasan

In the past five years a new field has emerged in condensed matter physics, based on the realization that the spin-orbit interaction can lead to topologically nontrivial insulating electronic phases and on the experimental observation of these phases in real materials. A topological insulator, like an ordinary insulator, has a bulk energy gap separating the highest occupied electronic band from the lowest empty band. The surface (or edge in two dimensions) of a topological insulator, however, necessarily has gapless electronic states, that are reminiscent of edge states in the quantum Hall effect. The surface (or edge) states of a topological insulator have properties that are unlike any other known one or two dimensional electronic systems. In addition to their fundamental interest, these states are predicted to have special properties that could be useful for applications ranging from spintronics to quantum computation. Theory predicts that there are many other possible topological electronic phases, ranging from topological superconductors to possibly fractional topological insulators.

This is a rapidly developing field that is being driven by a healthy combination of experiment and theory. This workshop will bring together researchers with varied backgrounds to explore all aspects of topological insulators, topological superconductors, and related materials and phases. The goal is to understand the properties of the multitude of topological phases that are possible and to realize these phases in actual materials and devices. Key issues include these:

  • Electronic transport properties of topological insulator surface states.
  • Materials science for predicting and observing topological phases in real materials.
  • Topological insulator devices that incorporate magnetism and/or superconductivity, which may allow the quantum anomalous Hall effect and Majorana fermion states to be engineered.
  • Topological quantum computing using topological superconductors.
  • Fundamental properties of topological insulators, topological superconductors and related phases, including the effects of disorder and strong interactions and mathematical aspects of topological classifications and topological field theories.