Signal of elusive Majorana particle emerges in a nanowire | Science News

Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Signal of elusive Majorana particle emerges in a nanowire

Evidence backs existence of exotic entity that is its own antiparticle

12:56pm, October 3, 2014
atom-thick iron nanowire with possible Majorana particles

CLOSING IN  An atom-thick iron nanowire atop a lead crystal, illustrated here based on microscope observations, may harbor a pair of elusive Majorana particles. The red spot in the zoomed-in image indicates that the particle is confined to the end of the wire, just as theory predicts.  

Blips of electric current at the end of an atom-thick wire have brought physicists one step closer to confirming the existence of Majorana fermions, particles proposed 77 years ago that are their own antiparticles.

The new experiment, described October 2 in Science, does not definitively prove that these particles exist. But it provides compelling evidence that complements findings from previous research.

“The level of evidence is enough for an arrest but not for the death penalty,” says Leo Kouwenhoven, a physicist at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, whose team has also seen hints of Majorana particles. If confirmed, these exotic particles could help scientists overcome a major barrier toward creating quantum computers.

In 1937, Italian physicist Ettore Majorana proposed the existence of a particle

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More on Curiosity

From the Nature Index Paid Content