Theorists have long predicted that atoms placed in certain configurations would trigger electrons to behave in odd “quantum” ways. The Princeton-led team has been searching for a material that would produce these conditions. In the Feb. 13 issue of Science, the team has reported it witnessed the exotic behavior in a carefully constructed crystal made of an antimony alloy laced with bismuth.
Surveying the structure on an atomic level with new techniques, the scientists have recorded swarms of electrons spinning in a synchronized quantum dance. The coordinated behavior observed involves a strange form of rotation. Unlike most objects, which return to their original “face” when revolved full circle or 360 degrees, the harmonized electrons need to be twisted two full turns or 720 degrees in order to go back to the same face at the surface of the material.
Source: Princeton University.