Quantum interference pattern on the surface of a topological insulator.
Image courtesy of P. Roushan and A. Yazdani/Princeton University (2011)
Topological insulators are a recently discovered type of material that allows electricity to flow easily on their surface, but resist electrical flow through the inside. The unusual material has been used in experiments that simulate the behavior of exotic particles, and may soon lead to components in advanced computers. This image shows a map of the electrical characteristics of a topological insulator, providing information that is helping physicists to better understand how these new materials work.