WT Physics Major, Professor Publish Research into Faster, More Efficient Conductors

Chip Chandler Jul 28, 2021
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WT Physics Major, Professor Publish Research into Faster, More Efficient Conductors

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — A physics major from West Texas A&M University recently published research into newly discovered materials that may revolutionize personal electronics.

Duncan Miertschin, a senior from Amarillo, and faculty adviser Dr. Keshav Shrestha, assistant professor of physics, authored a study on topological crystalline insulators that appeared in the June 28 issue of the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter.

Topological insulators using tin, led and tellurium are a recent innovation in materials science that are efficient conductors of electricity and are highly resistant to impurities, Shrestha said.

“Everyone wants better and faster materials,” Shrestha said. “This is newly discovered material that will help achieve that goal.”

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.

Miertschin did the majority of the work in this research, Shrestha said.

“Because it emphasizes fundamental knowledge, we want to involve more students in research as we move toward becoming a Regional Research University, as set out in our long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World,” Shrestha said. “And this will make Duncan stand out as he considers where to attend graduate school. There’s so much competition in this field that schools are looking especially for students with this kind of research experience.”

The research was done in conjunction with Texas Center for Superconductivity at University of Houston and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Florida.

“This type of material is hard to study because it requires extremely low temperatures and powerful magnetic fields, so we’re very fortunate to be partnering with the lab and big research universities,” he said.


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. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 40 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.