Thought for the month

“It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.” Edmund Burke, politician (1729 – 97).

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Split electrons

An electron has been observed to split into two separate parts each carrying a specific property of the electron: a spinon carrying its spin and an orbiton carrying its orbital momentum. The electron's break-up into two new particles has been gleaned from measurements on the copper-oxide compound Sr2CuO3. Using X-rays, scientists from Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland) and the IFW Dresden (Germany) excited some of the electrons belonging to the copper atoms into orbitals of higher energy/velocity. After this stimulation with X-rays, the electrons split into two parts, the spinon and the orbiton. In the experiment, X-rays from the Swiss Light Source are fired at the compound By comparing the energy and momentum of the X-rays before and after the collision with the material, the properties of the newly produced particles can be traced.

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