Boston College physicists recently discovered an undetectable particle called the axial Higgins mode. (Image Credit: Nature)
Physicists at Boston College discovered a new particle, otherwise called “quantum excitation,” that could ultimately define the universe’s dark matter. In their paper, the team says this discovery is a magnetic offspring of the axial Higgs mode, known as the mass-defining Higgs boson. While the Higgs boson discovery involved using the Large Hadron Cauldron (LHC), this latest finding came from a “tabletop experiment” at room temperature.
The axial Higgs boson features a magnetic moment, magnetic strength, or orientation to generate a magnetic field, which makes it different from the Higgs boson. Therefore, it has a more complex theory to best explain it compared to the non-magnetic type. Scientists use high-powered lasers and massive magnets to smash various particles together, producing the Higgs boson. Meanwhile, the axial Higgs boson was discovered when room-temperature quantum materials replicated the axial Higgs mode. This particle was observed via light scattering.
The team developed a tabletop optics experiment on a 3.2 x 3.2 feet table and focused on rare-earth tritelluride (RTe3), a quantum material with a highly 2D crystal structure. The RTe3’s electrons organize into a wave where the charge’s density undergoes gradual enhancement or reduction. These charge density waves’ sizes can be adjusted over time to produce the axial Higgs mode.
In their study, the team transmitted a single-colored laser light into the RTe3 crystal, producing the axial Higgs mode. As a result, the light dispersed and changed to a lower frequency color, a process called Raman scattering. Energy loss from the color change produced the axial Higgs mode. Afterward, the team rotated the crystal, discovering the axial Higgs mode can control the electrons’ angular momentum in the material. This means this mode possesses magnetic qualities.
In the past, particle physicists predicted an axial Higgs mode and said it could help explain dark matter. However, this is the first time that the particle has been observed, especially with multiple broken symmetries.
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