After decades of research in nature's smallest areas, physicists have finally found evidence that anions exist. First predicted by theorists in the early 1980s, these particle-like objects only occur in realms limited to two dimensions, and then only under certain conditions – such as near absolute zero temperatures and the presence of a strong magnetic field.
Physicists are excited about anions not only because their discovery confirms decades of theoretical work, but also for practical reasons. For example, Anions is at the center of Microsoft's effort to build a working quantum computer.
Two reliable validations of quasiparticles were made this year. The first came in April with a report by a group of scientists from the École Normale Supérieure in Paris on the cover of Science magazine. Using a method first described four years ago, physicists passed a stream of electrons through a small particle collider to reveal peculiar properties that only occur when anions are present, particularly fractional electric charges. The second validation was done in July by a team at Purdue University in Indiana using an experimental setup on an etched chip to eliminate interactions that could hide anion activity.
The first work is considered discovery, but MIT physicist Frank Wilczek, who predicted and named anions in the early 1980s, argues that the second publication allows quasiparticles to shine. He claims that the work was excellent and caused the field to flourish. Scientists will never be able to separate an anion from the system in which it evolved because they are different from normal elementary particles. They are quasiparticles, meaning that although they have measurable properties similar to those of a particle, they can only be seen as a result of how other, more typical particles interact with each other.
There are only two types of elementary particles in the known universe. One of them is the fermion family, which includes electrons as well as protons, neutrons, and the quarks that make them up. Fermions stand apart from each other because no two can coexist in the same quantum state at the same time. Without this property, all matter could easily be concentrated in one spot. Solid matter exists as a result of fermions.
Bosons, a class of particles that also includes particles such as photons, make up the remaining particles in the universe. Bosons, unlike fermions, can have two or more states simultaneously. They meet often. As a result of this clustering we have lasers, which are streams of photons all in the same quantum state.
Anions do not belong to either category. Anions have a similar property to particle memory, so physicists find them particularly fascinating. The quantum state of a fermion is unaffected when it rotates around another fermion. The same is true for bosons.
All anions are unique. The movement of one around the other causes a change in the quantum state of the group. The number of cycles required for the anions to return to their initial state may be three, five or more. This small change in wave acts as a kind of trip memory.
Because quantum states are notoriously fragile and error-prone, this property makes them desirable objects for quantum computers. Anions offer a more reliable method of data storage.
Wilczek emphasizes that anions are a whole "kingdom" with a wide variety of species and unusual behaviors that can be studied and exploited in the future. About 40 years ago, he started considering them as a doctoral student after he was dissatisfied with the evidence supporting the existence of only two types of particles.
When asked about its other properties or where these unusual spacers might be discovered, he half-jokingly replied, "Anything can happen." He had dreamed of something else.
He claims that the latest research is just the beginning. He envisions anions in the future as a tool for exploring unusual states of matter, which as of now is just theory in physics.
Günceleme: 22/01/2023 00:43