Researchers Show How Majorana Particles Can Be Produced in a New Building Material

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New research carried out by a Danish-American research team has demonstrated that it’s possible to produce ‘Majorana particles’ in a new kind of building material.

Majorana particles have been the center of many physicists world’s since they were first suggested back in 1937 by Ettore Majorana.  And now, scientists have discovered how to produce a material where they can thrive.

An antiparticle is one that is identical to its counterpart in every way except for its charge.  It’s the same relationship that can be seen between a negatively charged electron and a positively charged positron.  When a particle acts as its own anti-particle, there is no charge at all, as is the case with Majorana particles.  This is an extremely useful property and one that scientists hope to exploit to use in the development of quantum computers.

The race to build the world’s first quantum computer has been going on for quite some time now, and one that the Center for Quantum Devices at NBI has been competing for.  “The condensed version is that it is possible to produce material in which electrons behave like Majorana particles, as our experiments suggest – and that it is possible to produce this material using techniques rather similar to those used today when manufacturing computer circuits,” confirmed Fabrizio Nichele.

To make up this material, two ultra-thin sheets are combined to make a kind of sandwich.  Its bottom layer is made from indium arsenide which is a semiconductor, which the top is made from aluminum, a superconductor.  Complete, this sandwich sits on top of one of the building blocks used in technology today.  If a nanowire were to be taken from this so-called sandwich, it would be possible to create a state where Majorana properties were being displayed inside the electrons.

“The condensed version is that it is possible to produce material in which electrons behave like Majorana particles, as our experiments suggest – and that it is possible to produce this material using techniques rather similar to those used today when manufacturing computer circuits,”

Although this theory has in part been known since 2010, Fabrizio Nichele’s made a few more discoveries since then.  “We are now able to design the nanowire on a laptop – and include the details we go for.  Further down the road production capacity will no doubt increase – which will allow us to use this technique in order to construct computers of significant size,” says Nichele.  “When it comes to constructing a quantum computer, Majorana-particles do, however, represent just one of a number of possible and promising options.  This field is very complex – and when, someday, a quantum computer has indeed been constructed and is up and running, it may very well be based on some form of integration of some different techniques and different materials, of which some may be based on our research.”

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