Nearly 20 years after researchers first predicted electron quadruplets and evidence of their existence are shown to do in experimental setups, representing a brand-new state of matter which opens-up an entire new field of possibilities in physics.
Technically, what we are talking about here is fermionic quadrupling, referring to the kinds of particles involved, and how they are interacting with each other. Now, scientists found it, they can get to work on figuring-out how to use it.
Electrical resistance is zero, if you think about superconductivity, you need pairs of electrons known as Cooper pairs, to form & condense. Something too similar occurs with 4 electrons in this new state.
“It’ll probably take much years of research to completely understand this state,” says theoretical physicist Egor Babaev from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and the senior researcher for new study. Babaev made original 2004 prediction about this state of matter.
For electron quadrupling to occur, particles require to be prevented from pairing-up & flowing without resistance in normal superconductor conditions, something that scientists were not also sure was possible until recently.
Babaev & his colleagues looked at an iron-supported superconductor material, called Ba1 – xKxFe2As2 (seen below) for their experiments, previously-identified as mainly producing unusual effects. The material was tested for electrical resistance & other properties at a range of different temperatures.
The experiments have showed evidence of the breaking of time reversal symmetry, a concept in physics, where turning-time expressions negative in formulas could run the same event backward or turn motions in opposite directions.
“However, in case of a four-fermion condensate which we report, time reversal puts it in a different state,” says Babaev.
Taken together, measurements recorded from experiments point to wide range order: not between pairs of electrons (just like in superconductivity), but between pairs of pairs. That is fermionic quadrupling & a new state of matter.
The state of superconductivity is used everywhere, from quantum computers to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners, but it still to be seen, what is in store for the new state of matter made possible-by fermionic quadrupling. It is being called a BTRS (Broken Time Reversal Symmetry) quartic metal phase.
With other new studies pointing towards more & more superconductors that do not have the symmetry or stability that had been previously expected of these materials, researchers say these types of states of alternative matter might not be all that unusual.
“The experiments open-up a number of new questions, revealing many other unusual properties associated with its reaction to thermal gradients, magnetic fields & ultra-sound that remains have to be better understood,” says Babaev.
The research has been published in Nature Physics.