Somewhere between matter and anti-matter, there is a particle- the Majorana particle. Or at least thats what Italian physicist Ettore Majorana theorized in the 1930′s. This week it was announced at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands, the Majorana particle has been found!
In research published just yesterday, nanoscientist Leo Kouwenhoven and his research group explain how they successfully created a “nanoscale electronic device in which a pair of Majorana fermions ‘appear’ at either end of a nanowire.” Another possible way to detect Majorana fermions would be to use a particle accelerator such at the one at CERN, though it has been thought to perhaps not be sensitive enough.
The discovery is considered not just exciting for physics in general, but possibly very important for fields such as computers and cosmology. The infamous ‘dark matter’ of which much of the universe consists of, is made of Majorana fermions. In the world of computing, these particles could help make quantum computers, which until now are only theoretical, into a reality. The fact that such computers could consist of these specific fermions compared to ‘normal’ quantum computers can serve to make more stable and durable systems.
Reference: Mourik, V., Zuo, K., Frolov, S., Plissard, S., Bakkers, E., & Kouwenhoven, L. (2012). Signatures of Majorana Fermions in Hybrid Superconductor-Semiconductor Nanowire Devices Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1222360
Photo: PNNL – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory /flickr