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Quantum Dance: Discovery Led By Princeton Researchers Could Revolutionize Computing

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A Princeton University-led group of international scientists has observed a unique behavior in the spin of electrons within a new material that could be used to revolutionize computing and electronics. Theorists have predicted that atoms placed in certain configurations would result in odd quantum behaviors from electrons. The researchers, which included scientists from the United States, Switzerland, and Germany, have been looking for a material that would produce those conditions. The team recently reported that it witnessed the exotic behavior in a crystal carefully constructed from an antimony alloy laced with bismuth. "We believe this discovery is not only an advancement in the fundamental physics of quantum systems but also could lead to significant advances in electronics, computing, and information science," says Princeton professor Zahid Hasan. Using new techniques to survey the structure, the researchers recorded groups of electrons spinning in a synchronized quantum movement, which involved a strange form of rotation. Unlike most objects that return to their original "face" after revolving in a full circle, the harmonized electrons need to rotate two full turns to return to the same orientation. "This discovery has the potential to transform electronics, data storage, and computing," says the National Science Foundation's Thomas Rieker. "The spin-sensitive measurement techniques developed here may shed light on other important fundamental questions in condensed matter physics such as the origin of high-temperature superconductivity."

Princeton University
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