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Physicists Puzzle Over Emergence of Strange Electron Aggregates

Submitted by Shane D Debolt on May 31, 2024 - 11:35am
New Quantum Hall Effect
Nash Weerasekera for Quanta Magazine

It came as a shock last year when a new effect was seen in electrons. Researchers at the University of Washington, led by Professor Xiaodong Xu, reported in August 2023 that in a stack of two atomically thin crystalline sheets offset from each other at a slight angle, electrons behaved like quasiparticles with fractional amounts of charge, such as −⅔ and −⅗. A few months later, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported the same effect in another material. It was the first time that electrons had formed fractional quasiparticles without the enabling influence of a magnetic field.

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