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Topological Electronics and Materials

Module PH2283

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Basic Information

PH2283 is a semester module in English or German language at Master’s level which is offered in summer semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Specific catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics
  • Specific catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Biophysics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 30 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2283 is Alexander Holleitner.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This module provides a detailed overview on a fascinating new class of solid-state materials and a fast growing research area: topological electronics and corresponding quantum materials. The conceptual application of topology to the classification of solid-state materials revolutionized condensed matter physics in recent years and lead to the discovery of novel topological quantum materials and phases. Topologically non-trivial band structures give rise to material properties that are insensitive against external perturbations, which renders topological and quantum  materials a promising and robust platform for novel electronic, spin-electronic and quantum optical applications. This module will introduce the basic concepts of topology in solid-state physics and discuss corresponding electronic and spin-electronic phenomena in quantum materials. A particular focus will be placed on the experimental realization and characterization of atomistic quantum materials with only a few nanometer thickness. The following specific topics will be addressed:

  • Historical and topical introduction to topological quantum phenomena and materials.
  • Review of solid state-band theory and introduction to modern topological band theory tools, including Berry phase, Berry curvature and Chern numbers.
  • Overview, classification, and characteristic properties of the main families of topological materials, including 3D and 2D topological insulators and Weyl semimetals.
  • Introduction to topological electronic phenomena, such as the quantum Hall effect, the (quantum) anomalous Hall effect, and the (quantum) spin Hall effect. 
  • Nanofabrication and preparation methods applicable to topological materials, such as Bi2Se3 or few-layer and monolayer WTe2.
  • Nanoanalytical methods specialized to topological materials. This will include polarization-resolved optoelectronic studies, magneto-electronic transport experiments, atomic force, scanning tunneling, scanning electron microscopy, enhanced X-ray methods resolving the non-trivial band structure.
  • Discussion of potential device application for selected topological materials in the area of electronic and spintronic circuits.
  • Focus topics to introduce peculiar properties of selected materials in more detail:
  1. Crystal structures and space groups in topological materials.
  2. Broken time- and space-symmetries and corresponding Hamiltonians.
  3. Berry curvature induced anomalous velocity and its influence on the transversal electron conductivity and corresponding spin polarization.

Furthermore, the students will become familiar with selected recent research papers and review articles in high-impact research journals such as Science, Nature publishing group and further literature related to topological quantum materials. The students are being trained in how to access and extract the information from those articles.

Learning Outcome

After a successful participation of the module, the student is able to:

  1. understand different classes of topological materials and to apply the classification scheme to further solid state materials.
  2. evaluate the non-trivial band-structure of selected topological materials.
  3. understand the preparation and nanofabrication methods for topological materials and to evaluate suitable methodologies for novel quantum materials.
  4. understand optical and structural characterization methods for topological materials, to analyze related results in recent literature and to apply suitable methodologies for given problems related to topological materials.
  5. remember magnetotransport phenomena, such as the quantum spin Hall effect in topological materials.
  6. evaluate polarization resolved optoelectronic transport phenomena.
  7. understand and discuss applications of topological materials for electronic, optoelectronic, and spintronics devices.
  8. access and evaluate the content of topical research articles focusing on selected topics related to quantum material research in high-impact journals.


No preconditions in addition to the requirements for the Master’s program in Physics.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Topological Electronics and Materials Holleitner, A.
Assistants: Kastl, C.
Wed, 12:15–13:45, ZNN 0.001
Wed, 12:15–13:45, ZNN 0.001

Learning and Teaching Methods

In the thematically structured lecture, the learning content is presented. The different parts of the lectures are cross-linked and thereby, the main physical concepts explained. The link to current research activities will be provided by discussing related and topical research article in high-impact journals. The students are actively involved by direct question and answer periods to better develop their individual understanding and to learn the use of up-to date’s research literature.


Power-point presentation together with handwritten lecture notes based on tablet-PC / beamer presentation (“e-chalk”). For selected topics interactive, numerical simulation tools (based on Python as a state-of-the-art scientific programming language) will be used to further illustrate and visualize mathematical concepts. Additional literature / research articles in pdf-format.

All Materials will be available for download until the completion of the repeat exam.


No specific course literature is required. Lecture script, references therein and references to further research and review articles are provided and some general recommendations for books for specific topics will be made in the lecture.

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of about 25 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions and sample calculations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Define fabrication methods of topological materials.
  • Explain characterization methods of topological materials.
  • Explain the (polarized) optoelectronic properties of few-layer topological materials.
  • Analyze the electronic fingerprint of (quantum) spin Hall effect in monolayer topological materials.
  • Discuss the impact of the layer number on the optical, electronic and spintronic of layered topological materials.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

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