You might think that matter and antimatter aren’t the best of friends, cancelling each other out when they come into contact — but you’d be wrong. In fact, researchers have now discovered a particle that’s made up of both.
Researchers, led by Ali Yazdani of Princeton University, have now imaged what they call a Majorana particle. They discovered it by stringing together a length of iron atoms on the surface of a lead superconductor. The process created a corresponding row of electrons and anti-electrons — except for the ones at a the end of the chain, which had properties of both. In other words, they were both matter and antimatter at the same time.
Some scientists warn that a little caution is required before the entire physics community gets too excited though. While the observed electrons appear to be a blend of antimatter and matter, some physicists wonder if in fact they’re in fact a new, different kind of particle. Still, even if that is the case, it’s an interesting discovery. As Leo Kouwenhoven of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands told Scientific American: “If you find a new class of particles, that really would add a new chapter to physics.” [Science via Scientific American]
Picture: Yazdani Lab, Princeton University