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Humans have been studying electric charge for thousands of years, and the results have shaped modern civilization. Our daily lives depend on electric lighting, smartphones, cars, and computers, in ways that the first individuals to take note of a static shock or a bolt of lightning could never have imagined.

Now, physicists at Northeastern have discovered a new way to manipulate . And the changes to the future of our technology could be monumental.

"When such phenomena are discovered, imagination is the limit," says Swastik Kar, an associate professor of physics. "It could change the way we can detect and communicate signals. It could change the way we can sense things and the storage of information, and possibilities that we may not have even thought of yet."

The ability to move, manipulate, and store electrons is key to the vast majority of modern technology, whether we're trying to harvest energy from the sun or play Plants vs. Zombies on our phone. In a paper published in Nanoscale, the researchers described a way to make electrons do something entirely new: Distribute themselves evenly into a stationary, crystalline pattern.

"I'm tempted to say it's almost like a new phase of matter," Kar says. "Because it's just purely electronic."

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Category: Science