The greater understanding of kagome materials afforded by this work helps open up a new path toward goals such as ultralow-power electronic devices and quantum computing.
In a “kagome” material, the atoms in a layer form a lattice resembling a traditional Japanese basket-weaving pattern (kago means “basket” and me means “eye,” a reference to the large holes characteristic of this open weave). The quasi-hexagonal symmetry is reminiscent of the hexagonal lattice of graphene, a material well known for its unusual electronic properties.
Recent theoretical developments have suggested that, under some conditions, a kagome material could, like graphene, exhibit a wide range of novel physics. In these phenomena, certain electronic excitations (“massive Dirac fermions”) play a major role. Despite predictions, however, the presence of these electronic modes in kagome compounds has evaded direct experimental observation.
Image: Artistic interpretation of kagome crystals.
Images by F. Frankel/MIT; illustration overlays by C. Turner/MIT