Today’s electronics is mostly based on transport and optical properties of conventional semiconductors and metallic systems. However, in the past few years, novel classes of materials have been identified which might enable a paradigm shift for future electronics. Many of these materials have in common that their itinerant electrons exhibit (pseudo-)relativistic behaviour: in graphene, electrons behave as massless Dirac particles, enabling studies of relativistic phenomena “in a pencil trace”. In so-called topological insulators, the electron spin is locked to the electron momentum due to relativistic spin-orbit coupling. Moreover, relativistic spin-orbit coupling at interfaces, surfaces and in nanostructures gives rise to spin-orbit fields that strongly influence electrical transport and optics and enable novel topological phenomena.
In CRC 1277 we intend to investigate the fundamental properties of these special electronic systems and the emergent relativistic effects they entail. Moreover, our common aim is to explore if and how the Dirac-like band structures and strong spin-orbit coupling in novel material classes and nanostructures can be exploited for future electronic concepts and lead to new, as yet unforeseen functionalities. Our common objective is to uncover electronic, transport, magnetic and optical properties of a variety of such materials and systems. These include molecules, carbon nanotubes and nanowires, two-dimensional crystals, topological insulators and superconductors. We put emphasis not only on steady state phenomena but in particular also on novel (pseudo-)relativistic effects in the time and frequency domain.