Scientists get first direct look at how electrons ‘dance’ with vibrating atoms

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vibrating atoms

Researchers have taken the first direct, and most precise measurement of electron motion in sync with vibrating atoms in an exotic material. The scientists witnessed an incredible interaction between the vibrations and electrons, describing it as a “dance”.

The paper explains how the team used an infrared laser to create vibrations in a thin layer of iron selenide. The atoms of selenium moved away from iron, and in doing they changed the energy of the electron orbitals. The vibrations and electrons linked at fundamental level, which is 10 times stronger than predicted in theory.

These precision measurements give us deep insights into how these materials behave,” lead author Zhi-Xun Shen, a professor at SLAC, said.

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superconductivity

Iron selenide is an exotic material that is linked to superconductivity. The ability of a material to transmit electrical current with no resistance. Currently, to achieve superconductivity a material needs over 100 degrees below zero, but stuff like iron selenide might hold the secret to high-temperature super conduction.

Superconductivity related to how electrons pair up with each other at low temperature looking at their behavior very important. Interestingly, the vibrations behave like a particle, called phonon, and they pair up with the electrons. That’s why the electrons keep the beat with the vibration.

To observe the electrons’ behavior, the team used the Linac Coherent Light Source, an incredibly powerful X-ray laser that has helped researchers study incredible phenomena like photosynthesis.

We were able to make a ‘movie,’ using equivalent of two cameras to record the atomic vibrations and electron movements. They wiggle at same time, like two standing waves superimposed on each other.

“It isn’t a movie in the ordinary sense of images you can watch on a screen. It captures the phonon and electron movements in frames shot 100 trillion times per second. We can string about 100 of them together just like movie frames to get full picture of how they linked.

More information: [Science]

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