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Quantum Materials: from superconductors to insulators... and back!

The discovery of high-temperature superconductivity in iron-based pnictide compounds has sparked a flurry of activity in the condensed matter physics community and reinvigorated the hopes of discovering higher-Tc materials. Nearly in parallel, a new class of materials, the topological insulators, have also caught the attention of the world with promises of demonstrating exotic physical phenomena and new spin-based technologies. Representing two fundamentally different classifications of states of matter, these two fields of research have quickly intermingled and together hold promise for realizing new physics, including a long sought exotic fundamental particle called the Majorana fermion. I will review our recent finding of a 49 K intermetallic superconductor, and then foray into our recent studies of the materials aspects of topological insulators, focusing on efforts to synthesize true "insulating" materials and the discovery of superconductivity in TI compounds.