Making the Most of an MRS Meeting
Special Message

Symposium NM13—Functionalization of Topological Materials

Highlights of the Friday morning session

Written by Antonio Cruz

Sometimes science needs to take risks, motivated by pure discovery rather than by the promise of technological applications. The National Science Foundation is one of the most prominent US government organizations that provides funding for such risks. The Friday morning session on “Enabling Quantum Leap—Braiding and Fusing Majoranas,” researchers presented some of their results studying Majorana modes. Eric Rowell from Texas A&M University described his work developing mathematical models of anyons, of which Majorana fermions are a type. Other researchers discussed their difficulties and successes in studying braiding of Majorana fermions, where in space the modes are located, and devices that exploit them. Sergey Frolov of the University of Pittsburgh concluded the session, and remarked that braiding is a difficult experiment, and all current proposed schemes are “crazy.” This work lies at the intersection of disparate fields—materials science, mathematics, physics—and it will take everyone working together to study it effectively.

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