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New form of matter ‘excitonium’ discovered

New form of matter ‘excitonium’ discovered

The researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new form of matter called Excitonium. The matter was discovered by a team led by Physics Professor Peter Abbamonte.

The discovery provides detailed understanding of another mystery of quantum mechanics; the practical applications of excitonium are currently in a speculative stage.

How they discovered excitonium?

During their experiments on non-doped crystals of the transition metal dichalcogenide titanium diselenide (1T-TiSe2), the researchers were able to observe the material and its precursor soft plasmon phase called “the smoking gun” that proves excitonium’s existence. The precursor phase emerges as the material approaches its critical temperature.

The scientists reproduced their results 5 times on different cleaved crystals during the testing, adding more confidence to the study.

Development of M-EELS technique

During their course of experiment the researchers also developed new technique called momentum-resolved electron energy-loss spectroscopy (M-EELS) that is sensitive enough to distinguish the new material from Peierls phase, an unrelated substance that has the same symmetry.

What is Excitonium?

Excitonium is a rather exotic condensate that exhibits macroscopic quantum phenomena like a superconductor or a superfluid. It was first theorized almost in the 1960s by Harvard theoretical physicist Bert Halperin.

It consists of excitons, particles formed from an unlikely pairing of an escaped electron and the hole it leaves behind. The hole actually behaves like a positively-charged particle itself. It attracts an electron and together they form the composite particle known as the exciton.

Why discovery is significant?

Since the coining of excitonium almost 50 years ago, the theorists have debated whether it would be an insulator, a perfect conductor, or a superfluid—with some convincing arguments on all sides.

Since the 1970s, many experimentalists have published evidence of the existence of excitonium, but their findings were not definitive proof and could equally have been explained by a conventional structural phase transition. The present discovery is of cosmic significance.

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