Physics

Catching a glimpse of an exotic lattice

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Science  03 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6324, pp. 491-492
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6324.491-g

We normally think of a crystal lattice as consisting of atoms. At low temperatures and densities, however, electrons are expected to form a crystal of their own—the so-called Wigner crystal. This phase is very fragile and thus tricky to detect reliably. Jang et al. used pulsed tunneling spectroscopy to detect signatures of this elusive phase in the form of sharp resonances that appeared when the solid, a GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructure, was exposed to high magnetic fields. The resonances appeared as a consequence of vibrations of the Wigner lattice. Their sharpness suggested longrange correlations in the crystal. The technique may be applicable to probing other electronic orders.

Nat. Phys. 10.1038/nphys3979 (2016).

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