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Technique Probes Electrons' Secret Lives

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Science  06 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5391, pp. 1021-1023
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5391.1021

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Two groups of researchers have found a way to peer beneath an insulating surface and image intricate patterns formed by the electrons trapped in a thin, two-dimensional semiconductor layer. At a meeting sponsored by the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida, last week, the leader of one group showed the latest fruits of the technique, which maps subsurface charges by scanning the semiconductor with a sharp probe. The images, which show enigmatic rings and filaments of electrons, only deepen the puzzle of how electrons behave when they are trapped in a two-dimensional layer.