An electron was split in two using a computer model
Thanks to the Large Hadron Collider, scientists can collide tens of thousands of elementary particles with each other to learn the secrets of their structure. However, it will never be possible to do this with an electron, since these negatively charged particles are indivisible regardless of the magnitude of their charge. But electrons, like any matter in this world, can be destroyed.
Science magazine published the results of the research of a whole team of physicists who managed to split the virtual model of an electron into two identical parts. Details of this unusual experiment were made public on January 13th.
Matthew Hastings (Duke University) and his colleagues, Sergei Isakov (University of Zurich) and Roger Melko (University of Waterloo, Canada) took part in the research. In the experiment, a virtual model of a crystal was used as an object of study. Then the object was exposed to a simulated extremely low temperature, at which the model crystal turned into a so-called “quantum liquid” – a rare state of matter in which electrons begin to gather into one group.
Certain materials (for example, superconductors or superfluids) can transform into a “quantum liquid” when electrons fusion into one whole is observed at a temperature equal to absolute zero. Under such conditions, the electrons lose their usual properties, and instead of repulsing from each other due to the negative charge, their accumulation is observed, which leads to the formation of a single particle. In this case, the electrons in the described situation acquire the properties of one particle, which are usually called quasiparticles. According to Matthew Hastings, these particles are capable of doing things that simply do not fit in the head and go against the basic concepts of molecules, atoms and electrons.
To carry out the experiment, a virtual particle with an electron charge was placed in a simulated “quantum liquid”. To the surprise of scientists, the electron split in two, each part of which received half of the total charge of the whole original particle. Further, a particle with an elementary electron charge was placed in various substances and various kinds of “quantum liquids”, which made it possible to fix some features of the universal behavior of a fragmented particle.
Thus, splitting an electron into two parts using a computer model showed that it is not at all necessary to subject microscopic objects of matter to collision – it can be destroyed in another way.