A team of scientists claims to have found the first firm evidence supporting the existence of the Majorana fermion, a particle considered as also being its own antiparticle.
Paul Dirac, a physicist, was the first recognized as theorizing that every fundamental particle known in the Universe also has an antiparticle. This took place in 1928 and confirmed some years later.
Then, around a decade later, Ettore Majorana, another physicist, came with a new claim. He predicted that some of these particles would also act as their own antiparticles.
Scientists have been unable to observe this feature experimentally. Or at least until now, according to reports.
Majorana Fermion Particle Observed in Joint Experimentation
University of California scientists, in collaboration with Stanford University ones, reportedly achieved this feat. According to their study on the matter, it is actually possible to observe Majorana fermions.
“Our team predicted exactly where to find the Majorana fermion and what to look for as its ‘smoking gun’ experimental signature,” states Shoucheng Zhang.
He is a theoretical physicist and one of the research paper’s senior authors. Zhang then concluded by stating that this discovery offers a conclusion to one of “the most intensive” searches carried out in fundamental physics. One that also spanned over “exactly” 80 years.
The team of scientists stacked thin films of a magnetic topological insulator and a superconductor, two quantum materials, on top of one another. Then, they sent an electrical current coursing through them, all of this inside a chilled vacuum chamber.
The following step was sweeping a magnet over this system. This made the flow of electrons switch direction, slow down, or even stop altogether.
During this cycle, the team observed the emergence of Majorana quasiparticles. These were also noted to be following the same patterns as the electrons. This is a behavior characteristic of these particles.
The team of scientists considers this to be the first evidence to present their existence. They also believe that it could come help in the construction process of quantum computers, ones that aren’t thrown off by environmental noise. Study results are available in the journal Science.
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