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Particles and interactions

Particles and interactions

Pinning down the elusive Majorana fermion

13 Sep 2012

It may not be as famous as the Higgs boson but the Majorana fermion is a fascinating particle that has managed to evade physicists for the best part of a century. In this audio interview the theoretical physicist Carlo Beenakker talks to Physics World about how experimentalists may have finally caught a glimpse of these elusive particles

 Its own antiparticle

Majorana fermions are a source of great intrigue to theorists because they are their own antiparticle. Beenakker traces the history of Majorana fermions from their prediction in 1937 by the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana. He then brings us to the present day by describing the excitement surrounding a recent experimental result from the Netherlands. The researchers at Leiden University published a paper earlier this year suggesting that they may have seen the first clear-cut signs of Majorana fermions by spotting them in nanowires.

Beenakker is also based at Leiden University, though he was not involved in this latest research. He has proposed a collection of research articles on Majorana fermions, which will be appearing later this year in a special issue of New Journal of Physics.

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