I almost missed this one – and it is important. Weyl Fermions are a type of subatomic particle that a German physicist theorized existed over 85 years ago. And the interesting part is that they have no mass.
Not sure about you, but those two phrases – ‘subatomic particle’ and ‘has no mass’ really don’t go together for me in the same sentence.
Be that as it may, we have found them trapped inside tantalum arsenide crystals … and if we can harness the potenial they provide, it could revolutionize (yet again) electronics as we currently know it.
Take a look at the article below to learn more. It is definitely worth reading …
Scientists detect new subatomic particle in a ‘semimetal’ material
August 12, 2015
A subatomic particle that was first predicted to exist before the discovery of Pluto, 85 years ago, has finally been spotted on Earth. Known as Weyl fermions, they are like electrons. But unlike electrons, they have no mass. Physicists found them inside a material made of the elements tantalum and arsenic. These fermions dart around and through it in strange and exciting ways.
“It’s definitely a big deal,” says Leon Balents. He’s a condensed matter theorist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
… The material is called tantalum arsenide. The newfound particles’ behavior gives this material metal-like features. Called a “semimetal,” it shares features with materials such as graphene, which is a sheet of carbon that’s just one atom thick. Its novel structure gives graphene unusual superstrong characteristics that have excited researchers over the last decade or so. “There are a lot of reasons to be interested in these materials,” notes Balents, who was not involved with the new fermion discovery.
Some scientists think that like graphene, tantalum arsenide could change the future of electronics. It could let devices use a fast-moving electrical current that easily evades any bumps or valleys in its path. Physicists can also use tantalum arsenide to learn more about Weyl fermions. These particles are stuck inside the material. But some physicists suspect free-floating Weyl fermions might also exist.
… Tantalum arsenide is the first “Weyl semimetal” scientists have found. In some ways, such a semimetal is similar to “topological insulators.” Those are relatively newfound materials that don’t conduct electricity well on the inside, but let electrons run laps around their surface. Tantalum arsenide does not have the same kind of interior. But it does have high-speed electron superhighways on its surface.The new twist with the Weyl semimetal, Xu says, is that its surface electrons don’t race around a closed track. Instead, they move from one side to the other. Then they disappear into the material and pop back out on the opposite surface…