Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University) in Australia have created an entirely new nanostructure they have dubbed a “nanocone”. It combines the upside-down physics of topological insulators with the easier-to-explain process of plasmonics. The result is a nanomaterial that can be used with silicon-based photovoltaics to increase their light absorption properties.
Topological insulators have the peculiar property of behaving as insulators on the inside but conductors on the outside and plasmonics exploits the oscillations in the density of electrons that are generated when photons hit a metal surface. What the RMIT researchers have done by bringing these worlds together is create a plasmonic nanostructure that has a core-shell structure that lends itself to being topological insulator.
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