MIT Physicists Detect Strange Hybrid Particle Held Together by Uniquely Intense

Electron Phonon Hybrid Particle

MIT physicists have detected a hybrid particle in an unusual, two-dimensional magnetic material. The hybrid particle is a mashup of an electron and a phonon. Credit: Christine Daniloff, MIT

The discovery could offer a route to smaller, faster electronic devices.

In the particle world, sometimes two is better than one. Take, for instance, electron pairs. When two electrons are bound together, they can glide through a material without friction, giving the material special superconducting properties. Such paired electrons, or Cooper pairs, are a kind of hybrid particle — a composite of two particles that behaves as one, with properties that are greater than the sum of its parts.

Now Electrons Interacting Strongly With Lattice Vibration Waves

An artist’s impression of electrons localized in d-orbitals interacting strongly with lattice vibration waves (phonons). The lobular structure depicts the electronic cloud of nickel ions in NiPS3, also known as orbitals. The waves emanating from the orbital structure represent phonon oscillations. The red glowing stripes indicate the formation of a bound state between electrons and lattice vibrations. Credit: Emre Ergecen

The results are especially relevant, as the team identified the hybrid particle in nickel phosphorus trisulfide (NiPS3), a two-dimensional material that has attracted recent interest for its magnetic properties. If these properties could be manipulated, for instance through the newly detected hybrid particles, scientists believe the material could one day be useful as a new kind of magnetic semiconductor, which could be made into smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient electronics.

“Imagine if we could stimulate an electron, and have magnetism respond,” says Nuh Gedik, professor of physics at MIT. “Then you could make devices very different from how they work…

Read More: MIT Physicists Detect Strange Hybrid Particle Held Together by Uniquely Intense

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