Ghostly Electrons: Particles flit through atom-thin islands | Science News


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Ghostly Electrons: Particles flit through atom-thin islands

1:09pm, November 9, 2005

Confine electrons within microscopically thin layers of material and weird things happen. Experiments on semiconductors in the 1980s demonstrated that to physicists (SN: 10/17/98, p. 247).

Now, two independent research teams have found that electrons imprisoned within a carbon sheet one atom thick behave in yet other odd ways, unlike anything seen in other materials. The electrons act as if they have no mass, so they zip along much faster than electrons moving through semiconductor layers do.

To properly account for the particles' behavior, scientists use equations that include aspects of Einstein's theory of relativity. The electrons act like a kind of particle known as a Dirac fermion, which shows up in particle accelerators and

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