Rutgers University physicists have performed computer simulations that show how electrons become one thousand times more massive in certain metal compounds when cooled to temperatures near absolute zero.
In a paper posted to Science Express, the researchers describe how electrons interact with other particles in these compounds to morph into what physicists call a fluid of “heavy quasiparticles” or a “heavy fermion fluid.” While this effect has been previously observed in some materials, the Rutgers work employs new materials to provide a level of detail that has eluded scientists so far.
“In this paper, we essentially track the fate of electrons as we lower the temperature,” said Gabi Kotliar, Board of Governors Professor of Physics in the School of Arts and Sciences. “Experimental physicists may have seen different aspects of this behavior, or they may have seen behaviors they did not understand. Our calculations reconcile what they’ve seen.”