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'Quantum Hall-like effect' found in a bulk material without an applied magnetic field
A team of scientists from Princeton University has found that one of the most intriguing phenomena in condensed-matter physics -- known as the quantum Hall effect -- can occur in nature in a way that no one has ever before seen.
Recently, theorist Charles Kane and his team at the University of Pennsylvania, building upon a model proposed by Duncan Haldane of Princeton, predicted that electrons should be able to form a Hall-like quantum fluid even in the absence of an externally applied magnetic field, in special materials where certain conditions of the electron orbit and the spinning direction are met. The electrons in these special materials are expected to generate their own internal magnetic field when they are traveling near the speed of light and are subject to the laws of relativity.
In search of that exotic electron behavior, Hasan's team decided to go beyond the conventional tools for measuring quantum Hall effects. They took the bulk three-dimensional crystal of bismuth-antimony, zapped it with ultra-fast X-ray photons and watched as the electrons jumped out. By fine-tuning the X-rays, they could directly take pictures of the dancing patterns of the electrons on the edges of the sample. The nature of the quantum Hall behavior in the bulk of the material was then identified by analyzing the unique dancing patterns observed on the surface of the material in their experiments.
post by bigfatfurrytexan
in special materials where certain conditions of the electron orbit and the spinning direction are met. The electrons in these special materials are expected to generate their own internal magnetic field when they are traveling near the speed of light and are subject to the laws of relativity.
Originally posted by plumranch
On the practical side do you know of any use for the phenomen they have discovered? Why might they be looking at this?
Conventional electronic devices rely on the transport of electrical charge carriers - electrons - in a semiconductor such as silicon. Now, however, physicists are trying to exploit the 'spin' of the electron rather than its charge to create a remarkable new generation of 'spintronic' devices which will be smaller, more versatile and more robust than those currently making up silicon chips and circuit elements. The potential market is worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year. See Spintronics
All spintronic devices act according to the simple scheme: (1) information is stored (written) into spins as a particular spin orientation (up or down), (2) the spins, being attached to mobile electrons, carry the information along a wire, and (3) the information is read at a terminal. Spin orientation of conduction electrons survives for a relatively long time (nanoseconds, compared to tens of femtoseconds during which electron momentum decays), which makes spintronic devices particularly attractive for memory storage and magnetic sensors applications, and, potentially for quantum computing where electron spin would represent a bit (called qubit) of information. See Spintronics
reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
You can imagine how handy it would be to be able to control spin in an environment (at room temperature) without having to generate and shield a magnetic field?