Skip to comments.For the First Time, Electrons are Observed Splitting into Smaller Quasi-Particles
Posted on 04/20/2012 6:56:50 AM PDT by zeugma
We generally think of electrons as fundamental building blocks of atoms, elementary subatomic particles with no smaller components to speak of. But according to Swiss and German researchers reporting in Nature this week, we are wrong to think so. For the first time, the researchers have recorded an observation of an electron splitting into two different quasi-particles, each taking different characteristics of the original electron with it.
Using samples of the copper-oxide compound Sr2CuO3, the researchers lifted some of the electrons belonging to the copper atoms out of their orbits and placed them into higher orbits by manipulating them with X-rays. Upon placing them in these higher--and higher-velocity--orbits, the electrons split into two parts, one called a spinon that carried the electrons spin with it, and another called an obitron that carried the electrons orbital momentum with it. Spin and orbit are--at least as our basic understanding goes--attached to each particular electron. So the fact that they have been separated is pretty significant. And while researchers have thought for a while that this kind of separation could be theoretically achieved, theyve had a hard time proving it empirically until now. Its a reminder that at the quantum level there are still things that more or less mystify us.
But thats not all it is. This particular observation of an electron splitting could have big-time implications in the field of high-temperature superconductivity. Understanding the way electrons can decay into quasi-particles could improve our overall understanding of the electron and how it moves, and thus help us figure out new ways of moving electrons--or electricity--around in bulk without losing large amounts of it as waste.
The universe an enormous pizza. When they're doling out Nobel prizes I want everyone to remember I said that.
I'm not sure. Most of the articles I've seen about this so far are pretty skimpy on details.
What I think is most interesting about it is how long now physicists have been saying that electrons are 'fundamental' particles, and now we see that this isn't exactly true, though they are calling them 'quasiparticles'.
Personally, I don't believe any particle is fundamental and indivisible. Like the man sez, "it's turtles all the way down".
I vote for the spinon being the primary cause of magic smoke from computer monitors.
Don't breath the magic smoke. It's bad for you.
Well - we’ve known for some time that there were quarks, leptons, bosons, gluons, etc. But those were all out of the nucleus of the atom. I think a proton was 2 or 3 quarks - my degree was physics but it’s so dated(’89)its like cell phones to a telegraph key.
What I find more interesting is the idea that adding energy causes the seperation. It makes understanding the field/energy state vs particle discussion on how electrons and photons act as energy vs mass depending on what your looking at a much easier discussion to have.
When you look at it one way your only seeing a certain subatomic particles interactions/aspect, whereas another subatomic particles interactions/aspect (in the same photon or electron) is seen in a different way because it is interacting with it’s space in a different way.
I find this puzzling....
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