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Researchers Use Lasers to Transform Material Properties

MIT scientists have conducted research that could let them shine precise laser beams on substances to create new materials, change their electronic properties, and turn them into semiconductors. The researchers accomplished this by developing a way to produce and measure photon and electron coupling on a topological-insulator material – a material that has both an insulating interior and a conductive surface. This work could enable scientists to create new kinds of electronic states in solid-state systems. The researchers shone a polarized laser beam at bismuth selenide crystals and found they could change their bandgap—the energy difference between it’s a material’s nonconductive and conductive states—and turn them into a semiconductor. They add  that, although they have only experimented with bismuth selenide, the technique might be useful with other materials. They published their work in Science.(SlashDot)(MIT News Office)

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