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HomeSECURITYHow playing musical chairs helped physicists discover a new state of matter

How playing musical chairs helped physicists discover a new state of matter

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How playing musical chairs helped physicists discover a new state of matter

Physicists have designed a two-layer semiconductor device in which electrons and holes cannot find their place due to local mismatch.

Quantum frustration is a phenomenon where the particles in a quantum system cannot establish a certain order due to competing interactions. This leads to strong quantum fluctuations that can give rise to new states of matter.

A team of physicists, including UMass assistant professor Tigran Sedrakian, recently announced that they discovered a new state of matter called the “chiral Bose-liquid state”. This discovery opens a new path in the ancient quest to understand the nature of the physical world.

To achieve this state, physicists created a two-layer semiconductor device in which the top layer is saturated with electrons and the bottom layer is filled with “holes,” or places that a stray electron can take. Then the two layers were brought so close to each other that the distance between them was less than the size of an atom. In addition, a local discrepancy between the number of electrons and holes was created in the lower layer.

“It’s like playing musical chairs,” says Sedrakian, “designed to confuse the electrons. Instead of each electron having one chair to sit on, they now have to hurry and have many possibilities where they “sit”.

This frustration triggers a new chiral edge state that has a number of surprising characteristics. For example, if you cool quantum matter in a chiral state to absolute zero, electrons will freeze in a predictable pattern, and the resulting charge-neutral particles in this state will all rotate clockwise or counterclockwise.

The new state of matter could have potential applications in quantum computing and superconductivity.



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