The concept of confinement is one of the central ideas in modern physics. The most famous example is that of quarks which bind together to form protons and neutrons. Now Prof. Bella Lake from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin together with an international team of scientists report for the first time an experimental realization and a proof of confinement phenomenon observed in a condensed matter system.
The concept of confinement states that in certain systems the constituent particles are bound together by an interaction whose strength increases with increasing particle separation. In the case of quarks they are held together by the so called strong force, a force that grows stronger with increasing distance. As a consequence individual particles like quarks don't exist in a free state and their properties can be observed only indirectly.
In the 1990s Prof Alexei Tsvelik from Brookhaven National Laboratory (USA) and co-workers predicted an analogous confinement process in systems known as spin-ladders found in condensed matter physics. Experimental confirmation of this phenomenon has however only been achieved recently as described by Bella Lake et al in the current issue of the journal Nature Physics.
Spin-ladders consist of two chains of copper oxide chemically bonded together. This makes the electrons interact strongly with each other. A remarkable feature of a single chain is that the individual electrons, which behave as an elementary charge combined with magnetic spin, co-operate in concert to separate into independent spin and charge parts. Ac-cording to Bella Lake "The spin parts, known as spinons, have different properties to those of the original electrons. In fact they are analogous to quarks, the building blocks of protons and neutrons." On coupling two chains together to form a spin ladder the spin parts are found to recombine, but in a new way. "We have found, that excitations of individual chains, so called spinons, are confined in a similar way to that in which elementary quarks are held together", Bella Lake said.
The team of scientists have found evidence for the confinement idea by neutron scattering experiments on magnetic crystals of calcium cuprate (a copper-oxide material synthesized at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and materials research in Dresden). The neutron experiments were performed using the MAPS spectrometer at the ISIS pulsed neutron source at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK. Further the crystal and magnetic structure were investigated from neutron data collected on the E5 instrument at the research reactor BER II in Berlin.
The neutron scattering data show that the electrons essentially first split into spins and charges on the chains, then the spinons pair up again due to ladder effects. Prof Alan Tennant, the head of "Institute Complex Magnetic Materials" at HZB, explained: "The geometry of the ladder in fact plays a special role: the spinons always appear in pairs and when they move apart, they force a reorganisation of the intervening electrons that costs energy. The energy cost grows with separation - like a rubber band." According to Bella Lake "This strong pairing up of two spinons is like quarks binding together to form subatomic particles like hadrons and mesons."
Prof Alexei Tsvelik who developed the theoretical description explained "The formation of hadrons is well established on a qualitative level, but its quantitative aspects remain unresolved. It is unknown how to relate the theoretical parameters to the observed hadron masses. This is one of the reasons why condensed matter analogues are interesting. They provide examples of confinement for which detailed descriptions have been achieved."
Artikel in Nature Physics, DOI: 10.1038/NPHYS1462Confinement of fractional quantum number particles in a condensed-matter system
Berlin, den 25. 11.2009Further informations:
Britta Heidrich | Helmholtz-Zentrum
Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters
Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering