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The Frustrating Search for New Physics
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Physics of Light and Matter (PHOM) | Université Paris Saclay
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Sherbon marked it as to-read Aug 21, Eilidh marked it as to-read Oct 27, When the escaped electron with its negative charge, pairs up with the hole, the two remarkably form a composite particle, a boson—an exciton. Artist's depiction of the collective excitons of an excitonic solid. These excitations can be thought of as propagating domain walls yellow in an otherwise ordered solid exciton background blue.
Image courtesy of Peter Abbamonte, U. But that understanding makes the pairing no less strange and wonderful. Abbamonte and his team were able to overcome that challenge by using a novel technique they developed called momentum-resolved electron energy-loss spectroscopy M-EELS.
Third time’s a charm
M-EELS is more sensitive to valence band excitations than inelastic x-ray or neutron scattering techniques. Department of Physics and Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory With their new technique, the group was able for the first time to measure collective excitations of the low-energy bosonic particles, the paired electrons and holes, regardless of their momentum.
Theorists have debated whether it would be an insulator, a perfect conductor, or a superfluid—with some convincing arguments on all sides. We were standing at a whiteboard in the lab as he explained to me that we had just measured something that no one had seen before: a soft plasmon. Kogar admits, discovering excitonium was not the original motivation for the research—the team had set out to test their new M-EELS method on a crystal that was readily available—grown at Illinois by former graduate student Young Il Joe, now of NIST.
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But he emphasizes, not coincidentally, excitonium was a major interest:. So although we didn't immediately get at why it was occurring in TiSe2, we did know that it was an important result—and one that had been brewing in our minds for a few years. This fundamental research holds great promise for unlocking further quantum mechanical mysteries: after all, the study of macroscopic quantum phenomena is what has shaped our understanding of quantum mechanics.
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It could also shed light on the metal-insulator transition in band solids, in which exciton condensation is believed to play a part. Beyond that, possible technological applications of excitonium are purely speculative.