science 9.5.2018 15:56

Slovenian researchers confirm existence of new kind of particles

Ljubljana, 9 May - Researchers of the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) have confirmed four-decade old presumptions of Nobel Prize laureate Frank Wilczek of the existence of particles other than fermions and bosons. Their achievement is seen as an important step towards the creation of a topological quantum computer.

Researcher at the Jozef Stefan Institute Martin Klanjšek
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

A group of Slovenian physicists together with their Swiss counterparts has confirmed the existence of two kinds of atypical anyon quasiparticles in a special kind of quantum magnet, Ruthenium(III) chloride.

The news of the scientific breakthrough was reported by the prestigious scientific journal Nature Physics.

Since anyons are very stable particles, the discovery of the Slovenian physicists is seen as an important step towards the creation of a topological quantum computer, which the IJS says is the Holy Grail of the technology of the future.

According to the head of the research team for solid-state physics at the institute, Martin Klanjšek, Microsoft is already working to create such a computer but based on a different kind of anyons which unlike those discovered by IJS researchers are difficult to access.

"We wish this article makes Ruthenium(III) chloride a real alternative for the basis of the topological quantum computer," Klanjšek told the STA.

Wilczek thought about particles other than fermions and bosons four decades ago. He named them anyons.

The new particles can be found in nature as free particles and in substance as quasiparticles.

Russian-American physicist Alexei Kitaev wrote in a highly cited article in 2006 that anyon quasiparticles could exist in a special type of a bilayer quantum magnet with a hexagonal lattice.

A few such quantum magnets were successfully created only in recent years. Physicists around the world thoroughly studied the most promising among them, the Ruthenium(III) chloride, for the last three years to either confirm or deny the existence of anyons.

Klanjšek said the race, which the Slovenian team entered a year ago, was tough. The IJS team succeeded, because it managed to interpret its results in a new, unconventional way, the institute said.

Now that the existence of these extraordinary particles has been confirmed, Klanjšek expects scientists to be busy finding ways to manipulate them for the next decade.