Thought for the month

“To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.” Lao Tzu, philosopher (6th century BCE).

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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