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Exotic particles, chilled and trapped, form giant matter wave

from University of California San Diego

Physicists have trapped and cooled excitons so effectively that they condensed and cohered to form a giant matter wave. Excitons are composite particles made up of a coupled pair containing an electron and a "hole" left by a missing electron in a semiconductor. They are often created by light, and their formation and dynamics play a critical role in photosynthesis. Scientists can easily create excitons by shining light on a semiconductor. But the key to the team's success was to separate the electrons far enough from their holes so that excitons could last long enough to be cooled to as cold as 50 milli-Kelvin in an optical dilution refrigerator. Whole atoms have been trapped and cooled in the manner before, but this is the first time that scientists have seen subatomic particles form coherent matter waves in a trap. A report on this work is published in Nano Letters. more

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