Kagome is a pattern used to weave baskets from bamboo strips. The pattern is a symmetrical pattern of interlaced triangles that share corners. Scientists from MIT, Harvard, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have produced a kagome metal and found that it has exotic quantum properties.
Their paper, published in Nature (paywall), reports that the crystal made from layers of iron and tin atoms, causes electrons to flow in strange ways. The electrons bend into tight circular paths and flow along the edges without losing energy.
What is really interesting is that the effect persists at room temperature and above. The scientists hope this will lead to a material that has superconductor-like properties that works at room temperature. The key appears to be the use magnetic material (the iron) in the kagome pattern. Earlier attempts required external magnetic fields and cold temperatures to show the same sort of electron bending.
Oddly, Herbertsmithite occurs naturally, has a kagome lattice structure, and also exhibits strange magnetic properties. You’d think this is the first time Hackaday’s talked about kagome. You’d be wrong, but it wasn’t quite the same thing. We thought we understood magnets a little, and now there’s a whole new kind.
Photo Credit: [A. Davey] CC-BY-2.0