Experimental evidence for a two-dimensional quantized Hall insulator

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The general theoretical definition of an insulator is a material in which the conductivity vanishes at the absolute zero of temperature.In classical insulators, such as materials with a band gap, vanishing conductivities lead to diverging resistivities. But other insulators can show more complex behaviour, particularly in the presence of a high magnetic field, where different components of the resistivity tensor can display different behaviours: the magnetoresistance diverges as the temperature approaches absolute zero, but the transverse (Hall) resistance remains finite. Such a system is known as a Hall insulator [1]. Here we report experimental evidence for a quantized [2] Hall insulator in a two-dimensional electron system-confined in a semiconductor quantum well. The Hall resistance is quantized in the quantum unit of resistance h/e2, where h is Planck's constant and e the electronic charge. At low fields, the sample reverts to being a normal Hall insulator.

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