Scientists have taken inspiration from Japanese basket pattern for their new metallic material packed with exotic electrical properties.
For those of you not aware about Kagome baskets – these are baskets that have design characterised by a symmetrical pattern of interlaced, corner-sharing triangles. From the aesthetics perspective this Japanese basket pattern has been admired to hundreds of years, but the pattern has equally intrigued physicists as well for decades.
It has long been postulated that if metals were developed with a pattern resembling a kagome basket, the atomic scale should exhibit peculiar electrical characteristics.
This led to development of a new material that is an electrically conducting crystal, made from layers of iron and tin atoms, with each atomic layer arranged in the repeating pattern of a kagome lattice. According to the team of scientists behind this new material, when current is passed across the kagome layers within the crystal, they found that the triangular arrangement of atoms induced strange behaviour in that current.
Instead of flowing straight through, electrons instead veered, or bent back within the lattice. Scientists have linked this behavior to the physics of the quantum world, which takes over at tiny scales. For example, in quantum mechanics, objects can have the characteristics of both a particle and a wave.
The particular quantum behaviour observed is similar to something called the Quantum Hall effect, where electrons flowing through a two-dimensional material will bend into tight circular paths and flow along edges without losing energy.
Physicists have long wondered whether materials could support a form of this exotic Quantum Hall behaviour. But it was only several years ago that researchers made progress in creating them.
The next step was to seek out these characteristics in materials based on a kagome lattice.