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Department Spin and Topology in Quantum Materials

Priority Program “Topological Insulators: Materials - Fundamental Properties - Devices“ (SPP 1666)

Since 2013, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has been supporting the Priority Program „Topological Insulators: Materials - Fundamental Properties - Devices“ (SPP 1666). It is planned for a duration of six years. Presently, the tender for the second funding period starting June 2016 (new and follow-up projects) has been closed on 4 Nov 2015.

In Germany and the U. S. in 2005 and subsequent years, the quantum spin Hall effect and topological insulators (TI) have been discovered, which created a new material class in two and three dimensions, respectively. Topological insulators are insulating only in their interior and display electrically conducting, topologically protected surface states. Since the Priority Program was established, the field of topological insulators has been developing tremendously with important contributions from within the Priority Program. Today, about 30 material systems are established as topological insulators, several of which with insulating volume.

The SPP 1666 shall in the second funding period continue to deliver essential progress by dealing with the following work packages:

  1. Improvement of existing TI materials The currently available materials for 2D topological insulators (heterostructures of HgTe/Cd1-xHgxTe) display a very small band gap while several 3D topological insulators with relatively large band gaps and meanwhile truly insulating volume exist. These materials shall be improved in order to permit room-temperature applications involving the one- and two-dimensional surface state, respectively. This requires investigations of the growth and the geometrical and electronic structure.
  2. Fundamental properties and device structures The fundamental properties of TI lead to many extraordinary electronic properties such as forbidden backscattering. Their investigation is essential in order to develop device structures and measurement techniques, in particular for spin-dependent transport phenomena, which can be used in future electronic devices. This includes hybrid structures, e. g.., with TI interfaces with superconductors or magnetic insulators.
  3. New materials and concepts New materials (e. g., Heusler compounds, oxides, Kondo insulators, topological crystalline (mirror) insulators, 3D Dirac and Weyl systems) can help overcome the limitations of presently known TI materials and introduce novel properties. Innovative concepts, such as for the detection of Majorana fermions, shall be developed.

The Priority Program shall bring together the German groups working on 2D and 3D TI, particularly experimentally and theoretically oriented groups. The projects may be organized as cluster with 2 or 3 partners or as single project with connection to other submitted projects.

Projects on graphene, metals, and superconductors cannot be supported as long as these do not include an interface with a topological insulator and its properties are clearly in the focus. The topological properties refer strictly to electronic bands, therefore topological aspects of skyrmions and magnetic monopoles cannot be part of the Priority Program.

Further information


Please direct questions on the content to the coordinator of the Priority Program:
apl. Prof. Dr. Oliver Rader
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
Elektronenspeicherring BESSY II
Albert-Einstein-Str. 15
12489 Berlin
Tel. 030 8062 12950

Questions regarding the application will be answered by the DFG contacts:
Dr. Ellen Reister
Tel. +49 228 885-2332  

Mrs. Heidi Schütz
Tel. +49 228 885-2832


The program committee supports the Priority Program.

Dr. Gustav Bihlmayer, Forschungszentrum Jülich
Prof. Hartmut Buhmann, Universität Würzburg
Prof. Hubert Ebert, LMU München
Prof. Claudia Felser, MPI-CPFS Dresden
Prof. Saskia Fischer, Humboldt-Universität Berlin
Prof. Laurens W. Molenkamp, Universität Würzburg
Prof. Kornelius Nielsch, IFW-Dresden
Prof. Björn Trauzettel, Universität Würzburg
Robin Klett, Universität Bielefeld
Philipp Rüßmann, Forschungszentrum Jülich