Eureka! Physicists accidentally stumble upon mind-blowing new material that could upend physics as we know it | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Eureka! Physicists accidentally stumble upon mind-blowing new material that could upend physics as we know it

Peter Andrews is an Irish science journalist and writer, based in London. He has a background in the life sciences, and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in Genetics

American physicists believe that they have discovered a strange state of matter entirely new to science – and they did it all completely by accident.
Famously, many of the greatest scientific discoveries have been accidental. Alexander Fleming let bread go moldy and discovered penicillin. Archimedes splashing about in the bath stumbled upon how to measure the volume of a solid.

But now, a team of scientists at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, have made an exciting and accidental discovery in the often-overlooked field of materials science. This team has previously made several leaps forward in the world of materials science by stacking ultra-thin 2D layers on top of each other to form new structures. These sheets are only a couple of atoms thick – so thin, in fact, that the electrons within them are restricted to movement in just two dimensions (hence their name ‘2D materials’).

Such materials are too small to see even with the use of microscopes. Swastik Kar, an associate professor of physics at Northeastern University and one of the co-authors of the study, describes the new discovery as "a perfectly repeatable array of pure electronic puddles" in between the two ultra-thin layers. The rules of quantum physics make it energetically favorable for the electrons to pool into these predictable patterns, despite the fact that they should repel each other due to their negative charge.

“It’s almost like a new phase of matter, because it’s just purely electronic,” Kar added.

On the potential applications of the discovery, Kar said that “when such phenomena are discovered, imagination is the limit.” When he first saw the way the material was behaving, he was convinced it must be a mistake, but says the team’s discovery could have major implications in communications, storing information, and a raft of possibilities “we may not have even thought of yet.”

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Congrats on these discoveries at Northeastern University, and may the applications from these discoveries to assist humankind be many, and wonderful!!