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Keywords:

  • materials science;
  • quantum state of matter;
  • semiconductors;
  • thermoelectrics;
  • topological insulators
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Heavy stuff: Topological insulators are formed of heavy atoms and host special surface or edge states. The electronic structure is characterized by a Dirac cone within a bulk band gap (see picture) that is generated by strong spin–orbit coupling. A chemist's perspective in terms of bonds, bands, symmetry, and nuclear charge is provided.