Researchers at Aalto University have released a paper in Science. The paper claims that the team of researchers, through a carefully designed experiment, has been able to measure the quantum properties of anyons directly. Anyons are a relatively less known type of particle. These particles find mentions in the scientific literature of theoretical as well as experimental nature. Despite being talked about for a while now, the quantum properties of these particles have remained a mystery. The quantum properties of these particles are of great interest to researchers involved in quantum computing.
The standard model is the best attempt by physicists at describing the fundamental particles which make up our universe. The standard model describes the existence of two types of particles in our three-dimensional universe. These are “fermions” and “bosons.” Fermions are a class of fundamental particles that repel each other, whereas bosons behave oppositely, they like to stick together. An example of a Fermion is an electron, and for boson, it is photons. However, this holds only for three-dimensions. For a two-dimensional frame of reference, another kind of fundamental particle can exist called anyon. Anyons are distinct from Fermions and Bosons.
The exact quantum nature of anyons has remained a mystery so far. Researchers expected to find the answers in the wave nature of the said particle. The theoretical proof of their existence has been available since the 1970s. However, there existed no experimental evidence for the existence of such particles. One of the biggest proofs of the existence of anyons can be found in the existence of fractional charges. Experimental Physicists have observed, time and again, fractional charges, which is considered a tell-tale sign for the existence of anyon-like particles. However, the only way researchers could prove the existence of such a particle, was by demonstrating properties that neither fermions nor bosons could exhibit.
The experiment was designed to study and prove the existence of anyons utilizes the cutting-edge technology available today. The researchers had to make a 2-D plane of interaction to observe particles that could only exist in a 2-D environment. The collider was so small, that an electron microscope had to be used to observe it. The crux of the experiment was to make a collider where you could force two particles to meet. The 2-D collider was manufactured to be layered between two different materials. There were two inlets to the quantum contact and two outlets. If two bosons came in and interacted, they would attract each other and leave through the same outlet, whereas the fermions would leave from separate outlets. In the case of anyons, they would sometimes leave together or separately, a property that neither fermions nor bosons could exhibit.
As predicted, the experiment showed the same results, thereby confirming the existence of anyons and giving a glimpse of their quantum properties through the study of their tendency to clump together or stay apart.
The paper has been proclaimed as a milestone in particle physics, and the article has been chosen for the cover of Science. The implications of this experiment are huge and certainly a huge achievement for the team of researchers who performed it.