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New way to measure electron pair interactions

Date:
February 11, 2014
Source:
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Summary:
Measuring electron pair emission measurements has always been difficult because it was traditionally done using highly expensive synchrotron light sources, which are available in only a few laboratories worldwide. Now a team of researchers has developed a new way to measure the emission of electron pairs directly by combining two common laboratory instruments called time-of-flight spectrometers.

A view inside the photoemission chamber, "Hydra," shows the entry point for one time-of-flight electron spectrometer (on the left, opposite the larger open round hole), as well as a second time-of-flight electron spectrometer (on the left front side looking toward the sample, which is a round silver crystal covered by an ultrathin layer of nickel oxide).
Credit: M.Huth/Max Planck

Shoot a beam of light or particles at certain special materials and you will liberate electrons -- pairs of them -- a phenomenon known as "electron pair emission, " which can reveal fundamental properties of the solid and reveal information necessary to design novel materials for future applications.

Measuring electron pair emission has always been difficult, however, because they were traditionally done using highly expensive synchrotron light sources, which are available in only a few laboratories worldwide. Nobody has found a way to routinely measure electron pair interactions on a standard lab bench.

Now a team led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle, Germany has done just that. They developed a new way to measure the emission of electron pairs directly by combining two common laboratory instruments called time-of-flight spectrometers, a setup they describe in the journal Applied Physics Letters, which is produced by AIP Publishing.

"Einstein received the Nobel Prize for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, which was published in 1905. Einstein considered the possibility that the photon energy can be transferred to more than one electron," explained Michael Huth, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics. "The existence of this process provides direct access to the electron correlation strength."

An electron pair is "excited" by a single photon; from an experimental point of view, this requires the combination of a suitable light source and electron spectrometers.

Developing such a setup involved "a significant effort," according to Huth. Comically, the team dubbed their setup's photoemission chamber "Hydra," because its two time-of-flight spectrometers give the chamber an appearance of having multiple heads.

As a proof-of-principle experiment, the team chose to investigate nickel oxide (NiO), which, in theory, should have strong electron correlation effects. While measuring the energy distribution, they were surprised to discover that in contrast to the metal, the energy sum of the electron pair shows no prominent features.

What's the significance? "Our observation is that metals and nickel oxide behave very differently," Huth said. "This implies that our technique allows us to quantify the electron correlation strength."

Quantifying a solid-state material's electron correlation strength is important because it allows researchers to characterize its useful properties, including superconductivity, metal-insulator transition and long-range magnetic ordering. "Our experimental data will guide theory toward understanding the fundamental properties of solids, and one day help to design novel functional materials," Huth noted.

Next, the researchers' sights are set on exploring different materials to gain a more complete picture of electron correlation by running experiments at different photon energies. "We also plan to optimize the efficiency and stability of our new setup for ongoing experiments," Huth said.

The article, "Electron pair emission detected by time-of-flight spectrometers: Recent progress" by Michael Huth, Cheng-Tien Chiang, Andreas Trόtzschler, Frank O. Schumann, Jόrgen Kirschner, and Wolf Widdra appears in the journal Applied Physics Letters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics (AIP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tsubasa Funabashi, Jun Mizuno, Masamichi Sato, Masao Kitajima, Makoto Matsuura, Shuichi Shoji. Film of lignocellulosic carbon material for self-supporting electrodes in electric double-layer capacitors. APL Materials, 2013; 1 (3): 032104 DOI: 10.1063/1.4820430

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics (AIP). "New way to measure electron pair interactions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211144157.htm>.
American Institute of Physics (AIP). (2014, February 11). New way to measure electron pair interactions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211144157.htm
American Institute of Physics (AIP). "New way to measure electron pair interactions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211144157.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

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