This Exotic Particle Had an Out-of-Body Experience; These Scientists Took a Picture of It

August 19, 2021

Scientists have taken the clearest picture yet of electronic particles that make up a mysterious magnetic state called a quantum spin liquid (QSL).  The achievement could facilitate the development of superfast quantum computers and energy-efficient superconductors. The scientists are the first to capture an image of how electrons in a QSL decompose into spin-like particles called spinons and charge-like particles called chargons.

“Other studies have seen various footprints of this phenomenon, but we have an actual picture of the state in which the spinon lives. This is something new,” said study leader Mike Crommie, a senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and physics professor at UC.

“Spinons are like ghost particles. They are like the Big Foot of quantum physics – people say that they’ve seen them, but it’s hard to prove that they exist,” said co-author Sung-Kwan Mo, a staff scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source. “With our method we’ve provided some of the best evidence to date.”

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