The Majorana Particle has been Found!
For the first time ever, scientists at TU Delft’s Kavli Institute and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM Foundation) have detected a Majorana particle. What is this strange particle, and what’s the importance of this discovery?
In the 1930s, Italian physicist Ettore Majorana proposed the possibility of the existence of a very special particle the Majorana fermion. Besides its awesome name, this particle has a very interesting characteristic - it is its own anti-particle. Thus, the Majorana fermion is a sort of bridge between matter and anti-matter; it is both!
“The scientists, members of Leo Kouwenhoven’s research group, managed to create a nanoscale electronic device in which a pair of Majorana fermions ‘appear’ at either end of a nanowire. They did this by combining an extremely small nanowire, made by colleagues from Eindhoven University of Technology, with a superconducting material and a strong magnetic field. “The measurements of the particle at the ends of the nanowire cannot otherwise be explained than through the presence of a pair of Majorana fermions,” says Leo Kouwenhoven.”
These fascinating particles could play a large role in theoretical cosmology, as well as in the creation of a quantum computer. One proposed theory says that dark matter may actually be composed of Majorana fermions. The particles could also be used in a quantum computer, a computer far more powerful than anything out right now; it is one that taps into the quantum world for information processing. In theory, a quantum computer composed of Majorana particles would be exceptionally stable and barely sensitive to external influences. Actually, a huge breakthrough was made this week towards a quantum computer, you can read about that here.
Ettore Majorana is as interesting as the particle that he created. In 1938 he, mysteriously, withdrew all of his money and disappeared during a boat trip to Naples. No one is quite sure what happened to him - whether he committed suicide or changed his identity. No trace of Majorana has ever been found.