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An experimental technique called "electron coincidence spectroscopy", which provides important information about the electronic properties of surfaces, could be coming to a lab near you thanks to work done by physicists in Germany. Wolf Widdra and colleagues at Martin Luther University and the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle have developed a version of the technique that does not require light from a large-scale synchrotron facility, but rather can be done on a bench top.

The technique involves detecting pairs of electrons that are emitted simultaneously when a photon or an electron is absorbed by a material. It could therefore be useful for studying superconductors and other materials with correlated electrons, which interact so strongly with each other that it is impossible to predict their properties simply by studying the behaviour of individual electrons alone.

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