More Physics News - Majorana Particles


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I had just posted this other entry on CP violation and was reading up on antineutrinos. Since they don't interact via the electromagnetic force I was puzzled as to how there can even be an anti-particle for something that only interacts via the gravity and weak forces. It turns out that antineutrinos are distinguished from neutrinos by chirality. There's also some serious discussion about neutrinos possibly being Majorana particles which would mean that a neutrino is actually its own antiparticle.

Then just the next day there's news that a Majorana fermions may have been discovered.

In his group's set-up, indium antimonide nanowires are connected to a circuit with a gold contact at one end and a slice of superconductor at the other, and then exposed to a moderately strong magnetic field. Measurements of the electrical conductance of the nanowires showed a peak at zero voltage that is consistent with the formation of a pair of Majorana particles, one at either end of the region of the nanowire in contact with the superconductor. As a sanity check, the group varied the orientation of the magnetic field and checked that the peak came and went as would be expected for Majorana fermions.

Now, it's not entirely clear what these particles would be since the results are so early, but there's some possibility that they might be something from the world of supersymmetry such as a neutralino.