Electron 'split-personality' seen in new quasi-particle

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At www.bbc.co.uk

Electrons can divide into 'quasi-particles', in which their fundamental properties can split up and move around like independent particles. Two such quasi-particles had been seen before, but a team reporting in Nature has now confirmed a third: the orbiton. These orbitons carry the energy of an electron's orbit around a nucleus. Generally, these properties are not independent - a given electron has that set of properties, maintaining them as it moves around, while a nearby electron has a different set. But the idea of quasi-particles allow these properties to split and move around independently, granting them to nearby electrons. An analogy of this slippery idea is a traffic jam on a one-lane road - it is as if one blue car, pointed west and running at 1,000 RPM, passes on its blueness, its engine speed and its direction to adjacent cars.

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At www.bbc.co.uk



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