Electrons’ magnetic interactions measured

Electrons can act as tiny magnets, and the magnetic field of each particle can influence the orientation of the magnetic fields of other particles around it. The strength of this interaction has now been measured.

Jack Bertram, Motion Forge

The minuscule magnetic interaction between two electrons has been measured.

Electrons can act as tiny bar magnets and exert a magnetic force on each other. The strength of this minuscule magnetic interaction has been hard to measure. But by cashing in on characteristics of quantum mechanics, a team was able to show that the strength of the interaction depends on the distance — specifically, 1 divided by the distance cubed — between the two particles.

The results, reported in the June 19 Nature, could have implications for the emerging field of quantum sensing, scientists say.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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