While the elusive "God Particle" - the Higgs Boson - may still be one of the most coveted discoveries in particle physics with scientists still trying to chase the near mythical particle down, it seems that another elusive particle, the exotically named Majorana Fermion may just have been discovered by Dutch researchers.
The Majorana Fermion, named after Italian physicist Ettore Majorana, is quite a peculiar particle, as it was theorized almost 75 years ago that the Majorana, quite unlike any other atomic specie in existence, is possibly its own antithesis, that is that it could be its own antiparticle.
Dutch researchers from the Delft University of Technology, publishing their work in the journal, Science, said that in their most recent experiments, they might have found definitive evidence to finally prove the existence of the Majorana Fermion.
But very much unlike the Higgs Boson that has so far required immense resources and power of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, the Dutch researchers of the Delft University of Technology have been able to research the particle using only a fraction of equipment and technology that is used by the LHC to try and discover the Majorana.
Working along with researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Delft team were able to construct one of a kind electronic circuitry that helps to potentially "sequester" the Majorana Fermion, preventing this particle from interacting with its anti, which would naturally destroy it.
The electric circuit itself operates on the nano level and is itself quite small, comprising of an infinitesimally thin wire that is sandwiched between a semiconductor and a superconductor. When a magnetic field is applied to this nano-wire, electrons are divided according to their energies but the circuit still allows certain electrons to congregate, acting in synchrony to form a Majorana Fermion.
Professor Leo Kouwenhoven, who leads the Delft group, spoke to the BBC, explaining, “If you take a solid material and you make the right combinations, the natural particles living in these condensed matter structures, will also obey this defining property of Majorana Fermions - that a particle is equal its anti-particle. The system is still built out of atoms, with nuclei and electrons, but the electrons behave together in such a way that their collective state is a Majorana Fermion,” adding that the potential discovery of the Majorana "opens up some very interesting ideas."
Discovery of the Majorana will potentially hold the key for physicists to understand the world of quantum physics and mechanism, understanding how particles and energy act at the most basic level of the universe in addition to possibly showing where all of the hidden mass of the universe comes from.