By: Kyle James | 07-27-2018 | News
Photo credit: Geoff Howie/The Edge

Scientists Discover New Quasiparticle Lurking In Semiconductors

There's a new kid on the quantum block, according to researchers July 26 report in Communications Physics. The researchers discovered electrons and positively charged holes in a semiconductor's atomic lattice band together to create a new particle that has been dubbed a collexon. This new class of quasiparticle, which is a quantum clan that acts like a single subatomic particle, could soon help researchers understand semiconductors much better. This could prove to be a giant technological leap since most modern electronics contain semiconductors.

This new particle discovery is similar to another quasiparticle called an exciton, which is a pairing of an electron and a hole. While the pairing that composes an exciton contains a single electron, a collexon is composed of multiple electrons, according to Christian Nenstiel, a physicist at the Technical University of Berlin and his colleagues.

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Nenstiel and his colleagues made the discovery when they inserted germanium atoms into a gallium nitride semiconductor, and hit the material with a laser. When observing how it emits light, the researchers expected to see results in line with similar experiments where emissions from excitons faded as the number of impurities increased. Instead, when high concentrations of atoms in the form of a laser were introduced, the light shone at different wavelengths than previously seen in its quantum counterpart.

What could explain this bizarre deviation? The team of researchers concluded that large amounts of wandering electrons, such as the ones in the germanium, helped stabilize excitons to form the new kind of quasiparticle now known as a collexon. Coauthor of the study Gordon Callsen of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland said it is too early to predict any applications. What the results did reveal was that researchers underestimate interactions among ensembles of particles in semiconductors. Callsens said, "Lots of interesting physics is still waiting for us."

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