Two main camps of particles rule the quantum world. Bosons are happy to share their quantum states with each other, while fermions insist on being alone. But there might be a third faction: anyons, which straddle the boson-fermion divide. Anyons are quasiparticles that can emerge when electrons are confined to two dimensions, but they are hard to study experimentally. Now Zlatko Papić of the University of Leeds, UK, and colleagues show that a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) could root out these exotic quasiparticles. Not only might this approach deliver unambiguous signatures of anyons, but it could also identify certain anyon types that could be useful for quantum computing.

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Category: Science