April 24, 2024

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'Light-speed' electrons moving in 4 dimensions discovered for the first time: ScienceAlert

'Light-speed' electrons moving in 4 dimensions discovered for the first time: ScienceAlert

The elusive behavior of electrons has finally been isolated from ordinary electron activity in a real-world material.

A team of physicists led by Ryohei Oka of Ehime University has measured what are known as Dirac electrons in a superconducting polymer called diethylenedithio-tetrathiavulvaline. These are electrons that exist under conditions that make them massless, allowing them to behave like photons and oscillate at the speed of light.

The researchers say this discovery will allow for a better understanding of topological materials, which are quantum materials that act as an electronic insulator on the inside and a conductor on the outside.

Superconductors, semiconductors and topological materials are increasingly important, especially with regard to their potential applications in quantum computers. But there is a lot we still don't know about these materials and the way they behave.

Dirac electrons refer to common ancient electrons under unusual conditions that require a dose of special relativity to understand quantum behaviors. Here, the interference of atoms puts some of their electrons in a strange space that allows them to bounce around materials with excellent energy efficiency.

They were formulated from theoretical physicist Paul Dirac's equations nearly a century ago, and we now know they exist — they were. Detected in grapheneBeside Other topological materials.

However, in order to exploit the potential of Dirac electrons, we need to understand them better, and this is where physicists face a hurdle. Dirac electrons coexist with standard electrons, which means that detecting and measuring a single species unambiguously is extremely difficult.

Oka and her colleagues found a way to do this by taking advantage of a property called electron spin resonance. Electrons are charged particles that rotate; This periodic distribution of charge means that each exhibits a Magnetic dipole. Therefore, when a magnetic field is applied to a material, it can interact with the spin of any unpaired electrons in it, changing their spin state.

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This technology could allow physicists to detect and monitor Unpaired electrons. As Oka and the other researchers found, it can also be used to directly observe the behavior of Dirac electrons in di(ethylenedithio)-tetravaline, distinguishing them from standard electrons as different spin systems.

The team found that to be fully understood, the Dirac electron must be described in four dimensions. There are the three standard spatial dimensions, namely the x, y, and z axes; Then there is the energy level of the electron, which constitutes the fourth dimension.

“Since 3D domain structures cannot be imaged in 4D space,” The researchers explain in their paper“, “The analysis method proposed here provides a general way to provide important and easy-to-understand information about band structures that cannot be obtained otherwise.”

By analyzing the Dirac electron based on these dimensions, the researchers were able to discover something we did not know before. Their speed of movement is not constant; Rather, it depends on the temperature and the angle of the magnetic field inside the material.

This means that we now have another piece of the puzzle that helps us understand the behavior of Dirac electrons, which may help harness their properties in future technology.

The team's research has been published in Provide materials.