Electrons move through a conducting material like commuters at the height of Manhattan rush hour. The charged particles may jostle and bump against each other, but for the most part, they're unconcerned with other electrons as they hurtle forward, each with their own energy.

But when a material's are trapped together, they can settle into the same and behave as one. In physics, this collective, zombie-like state is known as an electronic "flat band." Scientists predict that when electrons are in this state, they can start to feel the quantum effects of other electrons and act in coordinated, quantum ways. Then, exotic behavior such as superconductivity and unique forms of magnetism may emerge.

Now, physicists at MIT have successfully trapped electrons in a pure crystal. It is the first time scientists have achieved an electronic flat band in a three-dimensional material. With some chemical manipulation, the researchers also showed they could transform the crystal into a superconductor—a material that conducts electricity with zero resistance.

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