The Angle Particle and What It Can Do for Quantum Computers

NIST physicists used this apparatus to coax two beryllium ions (electrically charged atoms) into swapping the smallest measurable units of energy back and forth, a technique that may simplify information processing in a quantum computer. (Image:  wikimedia /  CC0 1.0)
NIST physicists used this apparatus to coax two beryllium ions (electrically charged atoms) into swapping the smallest measurable units of energy back and forth, a technique that may simplify information processing in a quantum computer. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

In 2017, an experiment proposed by Stanford theorists found evidence for the Majorana fermion, a particle which is allegedly its own antiparticle. Stanford and University of California researchers found evidence of particles that are their own antiparticles, also known as Majorana particles.

The theoretical groundwork was done by Stanford Professor Shoucheng Zhang and his group. Their Majorana experiment results were published in Science.

Zhang suggests that the Majorana fermion his team discovered should be named the “angle particle,” in reference to the 2000 thriller Angels and Demons in which a secret brotherhood plots to blow up the Vatican with a time bomb whose explosive power comes from matter-antimatter annihilation.

“Our team predicted exactly where to find the Majorana fermion and what to look for as its ‘smoking gun’ experimental signature; this discovery concludes one of the most intensive searches in fundamental physics, which spanned exactly 80 years,” Zhang said.

What does science hope to achieve by finding this so-called angle particle?

According to Stanford Professor Zhang, fermions could be used to construct robust quantum computers that aren’t thrown off by environmental noise, which has been a big obstacle to their development.

(Image Credit: By The LZ Dark Matter Experiment (http://lz.lbl.gov/) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Diagram of the former Homestake gold mine and laboratory’s spaces nearly a mile underground. (Image Credit: By The LZ Dark Matter Experiment. (Image: The LZ Dark Matter Experiment via wikimedia CC BY 3.0)

CASPAR

The Sanford Underground Research Facility runs the Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research or CASPAR, a low-energy particle accelerator which among the before-mentioned experiments also allows for the mimicking of nuclear fusion reactions that only take place in stars.

Conclusion

We might be looking at a turning point in science and particle physics.

It was 80 years ago in 1937 that Italian scientist Ettore Majorana theorized that there was a third class of particles besides matter and anti-matter — the fermion, which Majorana theorized could be both matter and anti-matter.

Scientists basically believe that fermions and the materials that could possibly bring them forth are a much more stable candidate for building quantum computing processors.

Together with CASPER and the materials used in their research, scientists hope to be able to generate fermions, which, if predictions are accurate, could mean a leap in our capabilities in quantum computing.

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