BSA Distinguished Lecture

"Fractional Quantum Hall Effect"

Presented by Horst Stormer, Columbia University

Thursday, May 4, 2006, 4:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium

Electrons are indivisible, as far as physicists know. In groups, however, electrons can fall apart and create smaller, fractional charges when squeezed onto a plane and exposed to a magnetic field. This phenomenon, known as the fractional quantum Hall effect, implies that many electrons, acting in concert, can create particles with a charge smaller than the charge of any individual electron – a counterintuitive effect, considering a collection of objects usually is bigger than its parts. Fractional charges are bizarre because, not only are they smaller than the charge of any constituent electron, but they are exactly one-third, or one-fifth, or one-seventh, etc., of an electronic charge, depending on the conditions under which they have been prepared.

Today, the evidence for such perplexing, fractional charges is direct, and scientists understand them in terms of an elaborate, quantum mechanical waltz of electrons. Stormer’s lecture will provide an intuitive insight into this fascinating state of matter, present recent surprises, and finish with a speculated application of these weird particles.

Hosted by: Morgan May

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