Particle chasing is a game that so many physicists play. Sometimes the hunt takes place inside giant supercolliders, where spectacular collisions are necessary to seek out hidden particles and new physics. For physicists studying solids, the sport happens in a much different setting and the sought-after particles don’t come from furious collisions.
Instead, particle-like entities, called quasiparticles, emerge from sophisticated electronic interactions that happen deep inside a cloth. Typically the quasiparticles are easy to probe; however, others are harder to spot, lurking just out of reach.
New measurements present proof for the presence of exotic Majorana particles on the floor of an unconventional superconductor, Uranium ditelluride. Graphic provided by Dr. E. Edwards, Managing Director of Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center.
Now a workforce of researchers at the University of Illinois, headed by physicist Vidya Madhavan, in partnership with researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Expertise, the University of Maryland, Boston College, and ETH Zurich, have used high-resolution microscopy instruments to peer at the inner-workings of an uncommon type of superconductor, uranium ditelluride (UTe2).
Their measurements show robust evidence that this material may be a natural residence to an exotic quasiparticle that is been hiding from physicists for many years.
The research is featured in the March 26 issue of Nature.