A team of physicists has mapped how electron energies vary from region to region in a particular quantum state with unprecedented clarity. This understanding reveals an underlying mechanism by which electrons influence one another, termed quantum hybridization, that had been invisible in previous experiments.
The scientists focused their work on bismuth selenide, or Bi2Se3, a material identified to host a rare topological insulator quantum state that changes the way electrons at its surface interact with and store information.
This research is one of the first studies to use a new generation of experimental tools, termed spectromicroscopy, and the first spectromicroscopy investigation of Bi2Se3. This procedure can track how the motion of surface electrons differs from region to region within a material. Rather than focusing on average electron activity over a single large region on a sample surface, the scientists collected data from nearly 1,000 smaller regions.
By broadening the terrain through this approach, they could observe signatures of quantum hybridization in the relationships between moving electrons, such as a repulsion between electronic states that come close to one another in energy.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Physics. (Phys.org)