Science for All | What is the chiral bose-liquid state? 

The Hindu’s weekly Science for All newsletter explains all things Science, without the jargon

Updated - June 22, 2023 10:24 am IST

Published - June 21, 2023 02:35 pm IST

According to emerging research, the chiral bose-liquid state may be an entirely new state of matter. Usually matter is a solid, liquid or gas. But at temperatures approaching absolute zero, or the world within the atom, things are very different. In this “quantum” states of matter, matter behaves in ways quite different from the solid, liquid, gaseous states that we are used to. There are even what physicists called ‘frustrated quantum systems,’ where infinite possibilities result from the interaction of particles. We are familiar for instance with billiard balls knocking into each other and then reacting in a predictable pattern but in a frustrated system, a collision can cause billiard balls to levitate or zoom off at an impossible angle. Some scientists have engineered such a frustration machine: a bi-layer semiconducting device. The top layer is electron-rich, and these electrons can move freely. The bottom layer is filled with “holes,” or places that a roving electron can occupy. Then the two layers are brought extremely close together. The machine is then triggered to create a local imbalance resulting in electrons not having enough holes to fill and this kicks off the novel state called the chiral bose-liquid state.

In this state you can cause electrons to freeze into predictable patterns, make them resilient to changes in spin (a defining characteristic of subatomic particles) and even have electrons synchronise their movements. It is very difficult to create such states of matter but going ahead may be used to fashion novel digital encryption systems.

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