You are probably familiar with the states of matter that we encounter every day, such as solids, liquids, and gases. But under more exotic and extreme conditions, a new condition could emerge, and scientists in the US and China have just discovered one.
They call it the chiral boss-liquid state, and like all the new arrangements of particles we’ve discovered, it could tell us more about the structure and mechanisms of the universe around us, especially about tiny quanta. Scale.
States of matter describe how particles interact with each other to give rise to structure and different modes of behavior. When atoms are held in place, they become solids. Allow them to flow and you have a liquid or gas. Separate the forcibly charged partnerships and you have Plasma.
Quantum environments provide even stranger ways for particles to interact, allowing for unique behaviors that are best described in terms of possibilities and energies.
Researchers have discovered a new state with frustrated quantum systems. In short, it’s a system with built-in constraints that prevent particles from interacting in general (hence the frustration).
These constraints and the frustrations they cause could have interesting results for scientists. Here, the researchers focused on the former and used the analogy of a party game to explain what was happening.
“It’s like a musical chair game designed to frustrate electrons,” says Tigran Sedrakyan, a theoretical condensed-matter physicist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“Instead of each electron having one chair to go to, they now have to mix up and have a lot of possibilities where they sit.”
The system the researchers put together was a two-layer semiconductor device. An electron-rich top layer and a bottom layer with many holes through which electrons can move naturally. twist? There aren’t enough holes for all the electrons.
This kind of system is hard to observe, but the team used super-strong magnetic fields to measure how electrons move, revealing the first evidence of a new chiral Bose-liquid state.
“At the edge of a semiconductor bilayer, electrons and holes move at the same speed,” says Lingjie Du, a physicist at Nanjing University in China.
“This leads to a spiral-like transport that can be further modulated by an external magnetic field as the electron and hole channels gradually separate at higher fields.”
This new state revealed some rather interesting properties. For example, electrons are locked in predictable patterns and fixed spin directions at absolute zero and cannot be disturbed by other particles or magnetic fields. Its stability can be applied to digital storage systems at the quantum level.
Besides, an extraneous particle affecting one electron can affect all electrons in the system thanks to relatively long-range quantum entanglement. It’s like putting a billiard ball into a set of billiard balls, and all the balls moving in the same direction come out in response. Another discovery that may come in handy.
All of this involves physics at a very high level, but each discovery like this – these singularities and extreme cases that occur outside the bounds of normal particle interactions – brings us closer to fully understanding the world.
“On these fringes,” Sedrakyan said, “discovers quantum states of matter and is far wilder than the three classical states encountered in everyday life.”
This study nature.
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