WT physics major publishes new material, may ‘revolutionize personal electronics’

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Courtesy West Texas A&M University

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A physics major from West Texas A&M University recently published research into newly discovered materials that may “revolutionize personal electronics,” according to a press release from West Texas A&M University’s Communication Dept.

Duncan Miertschin, a senior from Amarillo, and faculty advisor Dr. Keshav Shrestha, assistant professor of physics, wrote a study on “topological crystalline insulators” which was seen in the June 28 issue of the  Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, according to the release.

“Topological insulators using tin, led and tellurium are a recent innovation in materials science that are efficient conductors of electricity and are highly resistant to impurities,” Shrestha said. 

“Everyone wants better and faster materials,” Shrestha said. “This is newly discovered material that will help achieve that goal.” 

Miertschin added, that “the surface of the topological insulators conducts electricity much better than any materials currently in use.”

“They can be hundreds of times more efficient than anything we have at the moment. They are more durable, easier to make and more resistant to impurities in their creation,” Miertschin said. “Society revolves around computers, whether they’re smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers. Advances like this can make those devices run faster and more efficiently. 

“Ultimately, this technology could be used in the creation of quantum computers, which are thousands — if not millions — times faster than our fastest computers,” Miertschin said. 

According to Shrestha, “Miertschin did the majority of the work in this research.”

“Because it emphasizes fundamental knowledge, we want to involve more students in research as we move toward becoming a Regional Research University, as set out in our long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World,” Shrestha said.

Shrestha continued, “this will make Duncan stand out as he considers where to attend graduate school. There’s so much competition in this field that schools are looking especially for students with this kind of research experience.”  

The release stated that the research was done with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Florida.

“This type of material is hard to study because it requires extremely low temperatures and powerful magnetic fields, so we’re very fortunate to be partnering with the lab and big research universities,” Shrestha said.  

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