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Scientists at Princeton are reporting the first observation of , a particle first predicted over 70 years ago that behaves like and antimatter at the same time.

Majorana fermion
Finding the Majorana fermion only took 77 years and a shedload of high-tech hardware

To test this out the Princeton scientists built a ridged base plate of ultra-pure crystals of lead… and viewed it using a two-story-tall scanning-tunneling microscope mounted on anti-vibration buffers. Only then were they able to glimpse the elusive particle, sort of…

Princeton team finding the Majorana fermion
Everyone should have a scanning-tunneling microscope

The microscope was able to track electrical signal changes along the wire and spotted an electrically neutral signal at either end, signaling the location of the Majorana fermion. Yazdani said the experiment should be fairly easy for other boffins to reproduce because it doesn’t use exotic metals…

The discovery could have a major effect on the practicality of quantum computing systems. Getting atoms to behave in a state of quantum superposition, whereby they can represent not ones and zeros but both at the same time, has been notoriously tricky, but a stable Majorana fermion would make that much easier…

This new technique is more stable and suitable for engineering.
“This is more exciting and can actually be practically beneficial,” Yazdani said, “because it allows scientists to manipulate exotic particles for potential applications, such as quantum computing.”