New Theory for Majorana Fermion DiscoveryCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 3, 2012 07:38PM
In particle physics there are different families of particles including bosons and fermions. Bosons, like photons, can coexist at the same point without issue, but fermions, like electrons, protons, and neutrons, are forbidden from such an existence. It is also not uncommon for bosons to be their own antiparticle, but fermions often have separate antiparticles (positron, anti-proton, and anti-neutron, for example) and a collision between these and the normal-matter counterpart results in a flash of energy. Majorana fermions, first described in 1937, however are a class of fermions that are their own anti-particles but do not annihilate upon colliding.
This unique stability has had researchers searching for these particles for some time, but so far they have not been discovered. Researchers at Dartmouth College believe they have found another environment these particles could appear at; a topological superconductor. Topological superconductors, like topological insulators, have different electrical properties between their surface and interior, but in this case the surface is a conductor while the interior is a superconductor. According to the researchers' prediction, Majorana fermions could exist either on the surface or at the interface between the outer surface and the interior.
The stability of Majorana fermions makes them very interesting to researchers working on quantum computers as a building block. They also could help explain phenomena such as superconductivity, which they are often linked to in theories, including this one.