The ‘quasiparticles’ defy the categories of ordinary particles and herald a potential way to build quantum computers.
Nature, Published online: 03 July 2020; doi:10.1038/d41586-020-01988-0
Physicists have reported what could be the first incontrovertible evidence for the existence of unusual particle-like objects called anyons, which were first proposed more than 40 years ago. Anyons are the latest addition to a growing family of phenomena called quasiparticles, which are not elementary particles, but are instead collective excitations of many electrons in solid devices. Their discovery — made using a 2D electronic device — could represent the first steps towards making anyons the basis of future quantum computers.
“This does look like a very big deal,” says Steven Simon, a theoretical physicist at the University of Oxford, UK. The results, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, were posted on the arXiv preprint repository last week1.
Known quasiparticles display a range of exotic behaviours. For example, magnetic monopole quasiparticles have only one magnetic pole — unlike all ordinary magnets, which always have a north and a south. Another example is Majorana quasiparticles, which are their own antiparticles.