Research NewsPhysics

Slicing an Electron's Charge Into Three

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Science  19 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5333, pp. 1766
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5333.1766

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As everyone learns in high school, electric charges come as multiples of an indivisible unit: the charge of an electron. But two groups of physicists have demonstrated an exception. As an Israeli team announced in last week's issue of Nature and a French team will report in the 29 September Physical Review Letters, charge in a thin layer of electrons subjected to a high magnetic field and chilled to nearly absolute zero can come in units of exactly a third of an electron.