A new, multi-node FLEET review, published in Matterinvestigates the search for majorana fermions in iron-based superconductors.
The elusive Majorana fermion, or “angel particle” proposed by Ettore Majorana in 1937, simultaneously behaves like a particle and an antiparticle — and surprisingly remains stable rather than self-destructive.
Majorana fermions promise zero information with communication information, addressing rising energy consumption of modern electronics (already 8% of global electricity consumption), and promising a sustainable future for computing.
Additionally, it is the presence of Majorana zero-energy modes in topological superconductors that have made those exotic quantum materials the main candidate materials for realizing topological quantum computing.
The existence of Majorana fermions in condensed-matter systems will help FLEET’s search for future low-energy electronic technologies.
The angel particle: both matter and antimatter
Fundamental particles such as electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks and neutrinos (called fermions) each have their distinct antiparticles. An antiparticle has the same mass as it has a normal partner, but opposite electric charge and magnetic moment.
Conventional fermion and anti-fermions constitute matter and antimatter, and annihilate each other when combined.
“The Majorana fermion is the only exception to this rule, a composite particle that has its own antiparticle,” says the corresponding author Prof. Xiaolin Wang (UOW).
However, despite the intensive searching for Majorana particles, the clue has been elusive for many decades, as the two conflicting properties (ie, its positive and negative charge) render it neutral and its interactions with the environment are very weak.
Topological superconductors: Fertile ground for the angel particle
While the existence of the Majorana particle is yet to be discovered, despite extensive searches in high-energy physics facilities such as CERN, it may exist as a single-particle excitation in condensed matter matter where band topology and superconductivity coexist.
“In the last two decades, majorana particles have been reported in many superconductor heterostructures and have been demonstrated to have strong potential in quantum computing applications,” according to Dr. Muhammad Nadeem, a FLEET postdoc at UOW.
A few years ago, a new type of material called iron-based topological superconductors was reported to have majorana particles without fabrication of heterostructures, which is significant for application in real devices.
“Our article reviews the most recent experimental achievements in these materials: how to obtain the topological superconductor materials, the experimental observation of the topological state, and the detection of Majorana zero modes,” says first author UOW Ph.D. candidate Lina Sang.
In these systems, quasiparticles may impersonate a particular type of Majorana fermion such as “chiral” Majorana fermion, one that moves along a one-dimensional path and Majorana “zero mode,” one that is currently bounded in a zero-dimensional space.
Applications of the Majorana zero mode
If such condensed-matter systems, hosting Majorana fermions, are experimentally accessible and can be characterized by a simple technique, it will help to steer engineering of low-energy technologies whose functionalities are enabled by exploiting unique physical characteristics of Majorana fermions, such. as fault-tolerant topological quantum computing and ultra-low energy electronics.
The hosting of Majorana fermions in topological states, topological insulators and Weyl semimetals will be covered at this month’s major international conference on the physics of semiconductors (ICPS), being held in Sydney Australia.
The IOP 2021 quantum materials roadmap investigates the role of intrinsic spin-orbit coupling (SOC) based quantum materials for topological devices based on majorana modes, laying out evidence on the boundary between strong SOC materials and superconductors, as well as in an iron-based. superconductor.
A magnetic method to control the transport of chiral majorana fermions
Lina Sang et al, Majorana zero modes in iron-based superconductors, Matter (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.matt.2022.04.021
Provided by FLEET
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