Unraveling the Spin Polarization of the ν = 5/2 Fractional Quantum Hall State

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Science  26 Jan 2012:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216697


The fractional quantum Hall (FQH) effect at filling factor ν = 5/2 has recently come under close scrutiny, as its ground state may possess quasiparticle excitations obeying non-Abelian statistics, a property sought for topologically protected quantum operations. However, its microscopic origin remains unknown, and candidate model wave functions include those with undesirable abelian statistics. We report direct measurements of the electron spin polarization of the ν = 5/2 FQH state using resistively detected nuclear magnetic resonance. We find the system to be fully polarized, which unambiguously rules out the most likely Abelian contender and lends strong support for the ν = 5/2 state being non-Abelian. Our measurements reveal an intrinsically different nature of interaction in the first excited Landau level underlying the physics at ν = 5/2.