We speak of “new state of matter” in relation to the discovery made by a group of physicists at Northeastern University. They discovered a new way of manipulating electrical charge, a discovery that could lead to “monumental” changes in future technology.
In the press release presenting the study, Swastik Kar, a physics professor who contributed to the discovery that only the imagination could represent a limit to the possible exploitation of such phenomena: “It could change the way we are able to detect and communicate signals. It could change the way we can perceive things and memorize information, and other possibilities we may not yet have thought about.”
In the study, published in Nanoscale, researchers describe new ways to distribute electrons evenly in a stationary, crystalline model. It is a completely new electronic phenomenon, “a new phase of matter”, as Kar himself calls it.
The researchers made the discovery working on crystalline materials of very few atoms of thickness, materials that are usually called “2D” (although, of course, they also have three dimensions).
In such materials electrons can only move in two dimensions because they are literally trapped in an endless chessboard pattern.
Analyzing two of these materials one superimposed on the other, bismuth selenide and a dichalcogenide of metal in transition, the researchers found that the electrons, instead of moving away from other negatively charged things, formed a stationary pattern, “a perfectly repeatable range of pure electronic puddles that resides between the two layers”, as Kar describes it.
These are phenomena that had already been observed before but only at extremely low temperatures, unlike the experiment carried out by Kar during which the phenomenon occurred at room temperature.
The understanding of the phenomenon itself is still in its infancy but researchers believe that it can be exploited in electronics, detection systems and information processing.