PerspectivePhysics

Seeking out Majorana under the microscope

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Science  31 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6209, pp. 545-546
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260282

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Summary

The Dirac equation was initially developed to give a quantum mechanical description of particles such as electrons, but ended up predicting the existence of positrons—the antiparticle of the electron. A year before he disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1938, the young Italian physicist Ettore Majorana discovered a solution to the Dirac equation that implied the existence of particles, or states of matter, that are their own antiparticles. This finding was contrary to Dirac's solution, in which particles (electrons) and their antiparticles (positrons) are distinct. It has long been suspected, but not proven, that neutrinos are Majorana particles (1). In the past several years, the Majorana state has attracted the attention of the condensed matter physics community, but a definitive sighting has remained elusive. On page 602 of this issue, Nadj-Perge et al. (2) report considerable progress toward creating the Majorana state in the laboratory.