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Jan 11, 2021

Researchers Finally Create Electron Crystals 86 Years After First Proposed

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

Eighty-six years since electron crystals were first proposed, physicists have now constructed them, trapping electrons in a repeating pattern. The achievement is reported in the journal Nature.

A crystal is made of a repeating pattern of particles but electrons are difficult to keep in place. So an electron crystal is like trying to organize a large number of electrons that won’t stay still — it’s the herding cats of particle physics.

However, this team had an ingenious solution. They built a Wigner crystal using layers of semi-conductors just one atom thick. They then used two different tungsten materials and created a hexagonal pattern known as a moiré superlattice by placing one material on top of the other.

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