Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

A Is the electron a fundamental particle?

  1. Feb 26, 2017 #1
    According to this article an electron can be split into 3 quasiparticles:
    • ‘holon’ carrying the electron’s charge
    • ‘spinon’ carrying its spin
    • ‘orbiton’ carrying its orbital location
    The article links to an experiment that was made in 2012, where physicists were able detect the spinion and the orbiton after splitting electrons, here is the link to the original paper:

    My questions:
    1- What are these mentioned quasiparticles? And how do they work?! a particle that carries spin separately and another one carrying the location, I cannot understand how this works!

    2- Are these real particles or just separated quantum properties (which is even weirder explanation)? In the article it is mentioned that these particles can move in different direction and speed.

    3- Is the electron still a fundamental particle?

    4- Are there new research advancements on this subject?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2017 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

  4. Feb 27, 2017 #3
    Thanks it is more clear now for me.

    This part from the article made me confused, thinking that they are real particles:
  5. Feb 28, 2017 #4
    This is a really common ambiguity in how people use the word 'particle'. In addition to the fundamental particles of the Standard Model, quantum field theories are also used to describe quasiparticles such as these and phonons. Since it's unclear whether or not the "fundamental particles" are truly fundamental, and plenty of BSM theories predict they aren't, there isn't always a clear distinction between these two concepts.

    I like to think of these in classical terms, as waves in a medium. For example, phonons are just quantized sound waves. There is no single particle that makes them up, but they are discrete packets of energy that can be described as particles.

    Another analogy is the concept of electrical "holes" (where holon got its name, I'm sure). If you have a collection of evenly spaced charges and remove one, you can treat that hole as a particle with the opposite charge. It will act almost exactly the same, and is a much simpler way of thinking about it. When discussing electrical currents this is a common trick, where the current can be described as positive charges moving in the opposite direction as the electrons
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted