Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finally Fractional

News flash from Lucca Italy. Eva Andrei (Rutgers) announced that finally she has seen fractional quantum Hall effect in graphene. I had heard a rumor that she had seen this and was just about ready to make it public, but I expected it to be rather ratty data. But it was exactly the opposite – the data was absolutely clean. Gaps seemed to be in the 20K range, more or less as expected (an order of magnitude bigger than in GaAs because of the dielectric constant). Kudos to her. People were starting to wonder why on earth no one had been able to do this. It is not that easy, but once you know a trick or two… pretty soon everyone will be able to do it. We witnessed an important scientific milestone. No question about it.

On hand for this announcement were two people who already have Nobel prizes for discoveries in quantum Hall physics: Klaus von Klitzing and Dan Tsui, two of the founding fathers of our field. Horst Stormer was invited to the conference too, but I gather he is trying to take the word “retirement” seriously. Actually, it is rather rare to have Dan and Klaus in the same room – because Dan hardly ever travels. Turns out he showed up to this conference because he has a son-in-law in Italy and wanted an excuse to visit. It was a real treat to listen to him give a talk though.

(PS: I'm not suggesting that this new discovery will win a Nobel prize. But it is a big step nonetheless)


vc chickering said...

I love reading about how a garden variety genius can worm physics into even the most mundane. Yours is a love affair that will never diminish, will it? I am envious.

Write yourself a damn book. I'll read yours if you read mine.

ps- I'll link to your blog if you link to mine... heh, heh

Steve said...

I fear my first book will be titled something like "Topological Phases of Matter and Quantum Hall Effects." Do you still promise to read it?