WT Team Publishes Research That Could Lead to Breakthrough in Understanding of Fundamental Physics 

Chip Chandler

Photo provided by WT Communication and Marketing

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, [email protected]  

 

CANYON, Texas — Research by a West Texas A&M University professor and two students that may help in the search for theoretical particles has been published in a prestigious journal. 

Dr. Keshav Shrestha, assistant professor of physics, and student researchers Duncan Miertschin, a senior physics major from Amarillo, and Thinh (John) Nguyen, a graduate chemistry student from Da Nang, Vietnam, published research on superconducting materials Jan. 10 in Physical Review B, the world’s largest dedicated physics journal. 

Their research examines topological compounds—materials that conduct electricity faster than anything currently in use. 

The research team recently conducted experiments at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Fla., and a related study was publishedin June in Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter. 

The latest research examines a kagome lattice made of the elements cesium, vanadium and antimony, which Nguyen said could have greater implications. Such lattice patterns are found in many natural minerals. 

“This is a promising material in the search for Majorana fermions, fundamental particles like electrons which were theorized by Ettore Majorana in 1937 but have yet to be realized,” Shrestha said. “Not only can the superconducting qualities have a major effect on daily life, but if this lattice helps discover these fermions, this research could profoundly impact the understanding of fundamental physics, as well.” 

The surface of the topological insulators conducts electricity much better than any materials currently in use, Miertschin said. 

“They can be hundreds of times more efficient than anything we have at the moment. They are more durable, easier to make and more resistant to impurities in their creation,” he said. “Society revolves around computers, whether they’re smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers. Advances like this can make those devices run faster and more efficiently. 

“Ultimately, this technology could be used in the creation of quantum computers, which are thousands — if not millions — times faster than our fastest computers,” Miertschin said. 

In addition to working with the Florida lab, the research team also has partnered with the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. 

Such research activities are one way in which WT is strengthening its position as a Regional Research University, a key priority of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. 

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised more than $85 million. 

  

About West Texas A&M University 

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs, 39 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.

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