This Particle is Matter and Antimatter at the Same Time

By Jamie Condliffe on at

You might think that matter and antimatter aren't the best of friends, cancelling each other out when they come into contact. But you'd be wrong. In fact, researchers have now discovered a particle that's made up of both.

Researchers, led by Ali Yazdani of Princeton University, have now imaged what they call a Majorana particle. They discovered it by stringing together a length of iron atoms on the surface of a lead superconductor. The process created a corresponding row of electrons and anti-electrons – except for the ones at a the end of the chain, which had properties of both. In other words, they were both matter and antimatter at the same time.

Some scientists warn that a little caution is required before the entire physics community gets too excited, though. While the observed electrons appear to be a blend of antimatter and matter, some physicists wonder if in fact they're in fact a new, different kind of particle. Still, even if that is the case, it's an interesting discovery. As Leo Kouwenhoven of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands told Scientific American: "If you find a new class of particles, that really would add a new chapter to physics." [Science via Scientific American]

Image by Yazdani Lab, Princeton University