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Long-sought particles possibly glimpsed

Majorana fermions, which are their own antiparticle, could prove useful in quantum computing

2:39pm, April 12, 2012

The hunt for an elusive particle that does not have a distinct antiparticle twin might be over. Dutch physicists report making a new device that appears to create the mysterious entity, called the Majorana fermion.

“It is the fulfillment of a great intellectual challenge that has been with us since 1937,” says Marcel Franz, a physicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The work, led by Leo Kouwenhoven of the Delft University of Technology, appears online April 12 in Science.

Fundamental subatomic particles that make up matter, such as electrons, have antimatter companions. But Majorana fermions, first theorized over 70 years ago, are a class of particles that are their own antiparticle. They might have potential applications for storing data in future quantum computers.

Previously, scientists have published theoretical ideas or instructions on how to engineer the elusive Majorana fermions. Until now, no team has actuall

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