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Apr 28, 2017 12:41 PM EDT

University of California - Irvine (UCI) physicists were able to create new 2D materials that have powerful electrical and magnetic attributes. These materials are expected to become building blocks of future quantum computers and other advanced electronics.

Three separate studies have been published this month in the journals "Nature, "Science Advances" and "Nature Materials." UCI researchers and peers from UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Princeton University, Fudan University and the University of Maryland examined the physics behind the 2-D states of new materials and figured out that they can push computers to new heights of speed and power.

In a press release on UCI's official website, Jing Xia, an associate professor of physics and astronomy and corresponding author on two of the studies, said that they took exotic, high-end theories in physics and made "something useful." They explored the possibility of making topological quantum computers for the next 100 years.

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The studies did research at extremely cold temperatures. Moreover, it did not use electrons as signal carriers but opted for Dirac or Majorana fermions, which are particles that do not have mass and are able to move at nearly the speed of light.

One of the major challenges of this type of research is handling and analyzing tiny material samples. In the studies, the samples are just two atoms thick, several microns long and just a few microns wide.

The researchers created a compound which was viewed at -387 degrees Fahrenheit. Chromium germanium telluride (CGT) is described as a cousin of graphene, which is a superthin atomic carbon film.

Specific computer components like those used for memory and storage systems need to be made of materials that have both electronic and magnetic properties. Graphene has the former but lacks the latter. Its cousin, CGT, is the right material since it has both properties.

The team also examined what happens when bismuth and nickel are brought into contact with each other at a very low temperature. The two metals had an interface that breaks time-reversal symmetry.

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