Topological insulators and superconductors (11w5053)

Arriving in Banff, Alberta Sunday, February 6 and departing Friday February 11, 2011


(University of British Columbia)

(Princeton University)

(University of California - Berkeley)

Shoucheng Zhang (Stanford University)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Topological insulators and superconductors" workshop from February 6 to February 11, 2011.

Crystalline solids fall into two broad categories, distinguished by their ability to conduct electric current: metals and insulators. Metals are typically good conductors while insulators are not. Technologically important semiconductors fall somewhere in between these two categories. Physics of these basic states of matter was thought to be well understood until a recent discovery, based on ideas from physics and a branch of mathematics known as topology, showed that there are in fact two very different kinds of insulators. The new `topological' insulators possess conductive surface states and thus, surprisingly, can behave under certain conditions like metals. Participants of this workshop will address the most important theoretical issues associated with this new form of quantum matter and will also discuss possible uses of topological insulators in future practical applications.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).