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For the first time, scientists have captured a mysterious crystal that had been expected for more than 90 years – Enséñame de Ciencia

For the first time, scientists have captured a mysterious crystal that had been expected for more than 90 years – Enséñame de Ciencia

In the world of science there are many unanswered questions, hypotheses to test and theories to prove, which have been predicted by scientists throughout human history in order to explain the universe that surrounds us.

Although we are now surrounded by innovative technologies and great advances in science, we still have a lot to discover.

In this note, you will learn about a discovery that will revolutionize the world of physics. It is a mysterious crystal that was hypothesized more than 90 years ago and was finally revealed by a group of scientists.

This was an amazing crystal discovery published Recently in the scientific journal natureby a group of American and Japanese experts, most of them from Princeton UniversityThey claim to have observed for the first time the mysterious Wegener crystal, the solid state of subatomic electrons.

Electrons normally behave in an orbit around their atomic nucleus, due to the attraction generated by the protons that make them up. In the absence of protons, electrons tend to move as far away from each other as possible.

In 1934, mathematician-physicist Eugene Wigner devised a theory suggesting that electrons in a uniform, inert, and neutral background could stop repelling each other and form a rigid, highly compact, regular crystalline lattice, without a central atomic nucleus, under conditions of very low densities and temperatures.

It took years to verify this theory, and although there have been studies that have shown evidence of the existence of Wigner crystals, a classical or quantum Wigner crystal that formed spontaneously, determining the symmetry or fusion of this structure has not been directly visualized, until today. And this has really been proven.

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Image credits: Yin Zhen Cui and the Princeton University team

Visualizing this crystal allows us not only to observe its formation, and confirm many of its properties, but we can also study it in ways that could not be done in the past.said Yazdani, a physicist at Princeton University in A launch From the same university.

In this study, the scientists used high-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy measurements to directly image a Wigner electron crystal, which was excited at low temperatures by a perpendicular magnetic field in defect-free graphene sheets.

Using our microscope we can confirm that the samples do not contain any atomic defects in the graphene atomic lattice or foreign atoms on their surface in regions containing hundreds of thousands of atoms.“, mentioned the physicist Yazdani.

It is mentioned in the article that the highest magnetic field intensity was 13.95 Tesla, and the lowest temperature reached was 210 mK, in order to examine the structural properties as a function of electron density, magnetic field, and temperature.

Experts found that the electrons spontaneously organized to form a Wigner crystal, and although they tried to repel each other, due to their low density, they were unable to move away from each other, which helped to form the organized, compact and clear triangular network.

They want to move away from each other, but in the meantime, the electrons cannot be separated infinitely due to the finite density. The result is that they form a regular, coherent lattice structure, with each localized electron occupying a certain amount of space.“said Minhao Hu, co-author of the article.

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Scientists were also able to observe that increasing density or temperature causes the crystal lattice of electrons to coalesce into an isotropic liquid phase.

What impressed the scientists was that the formed electron crystal was stable for a longer period than estimated, when the density changed to a fairly large degree, contrary to theories that state that the density range should be very small.

On the other hand, individual lattice analysis allowed us to show the zero-point motion of the electrons, which was captured by blurring images at the time the Wigner crystal was taken.

The stable formation of this crystalline lattice of electrons is evidence that old theories can be tested, as well as leaving open a new field of research in quantum physics.

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