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Physicists have captured their first clear glimpse of the tangled web woven by particles called anyons.

The observed effect, known as braiding, is the most striking evidence yet for the existence of anyons — a class of particle that can occur only in two dimensions. When anyons are braided, one anyon is looped around another, altering the anyons’ quantum states. That braiding effect was spotted within a complex layer cake of materials, researchers report in a paper posted June 25 at arXiv.org.

“It’s absolutely convincing,” says theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek of MIT, who coined the term “anyon” in the 1980s. Theoretical physicists have long thought that anyons exist, but “to see it in reality takes it to another level.”

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Category: Science