Electron No Longer a Fundamental Particle ?

Spin-Charge Separation Graph

Spin-Charge Separation Graph
Credit: Nature, Schlappa et al

Amazing news: Researchers in Switzerland have separated an Electron into two smaller quasi-particles – a “Spinon” and an “Orbiton;” meaning they have physically separated the spin and the orbit properties of an Electron.

Until now, standard physics generally accepted that an Electron was a fundamental particle – that it was not made of smaller components.

However, as early as 1980 theorists had predicted an electron could be made of three smaller pieces: A “Spinon” (providing spin), an “Orbiton” (providing the orbit) and a “Holon” (carrying the charge).

In 1996, physicists seemed to split an electron into a holon and spinon.

In 1996, American physicists C. L. Kane and Matthew Fisher made a theoretical prediction that if you confine electrons to individual atomic chains, the Wiedemann-Franz law could be strongly violated. In this one-dimensional world, the electrons split into two distinct components or excitations, one carrying spin but not charge (the spinon), the other carrying charge but not spin (the holon).

This year Swiss and German researchers1 led by experimenter Thorsten Schmitt fired a tightly focused X-ray beam at a copper-oxide compound called “strontium cuprate,” special because particles in it can only move in one-dimension, one degree of freedom – forward or backwards.

They observed an electron split into two of the three predicted parts – a Spinon and an Orbitron.

What solidified their observation is finding distinct properties for the two parts. “These quasiparticles can move with different speeds and even in different directions in the material,” said Jeroen van den Brink, a condensed-matter physicist at the Institute for Theoretical Solid State Physics in Dresden, Germany.

For more here is a news report in Nature Journal “Not-quite-so elementary, my dear electron

The original paper: Spin–orbital separation in the quasi-one-dimensional Mott insulator [strontium cuprate]

1. Electron Splitting Research Team: J. Schlappa, K. Wohlfeld, K. J. Zhou, M. Mourigal, M. W. Haverkort, V. N. Strocov, L. Hozoi, C. Monney, S. Nishimoto, S. Singh, A. Revcolevschi, J.-S. Caux, L. Patthey, H. M. Rønnow, J. van den Brink & T. Schmitt

Do I hear a Nobel Prize ringing ? :-)

Update April 4, 2016: Experimentalists have just separated an Electron into smaller particles, more easily and apparently sufficiently so that the Electron subcomponents can be used in human scale devices ! They refer to the result as a new state of matter called “quantum spin liquid.” More later.

Related articles:

Why Don’t Three Quarks Add Up to One Proton? (and its not even close)

Haggar Physicists Develop ‘Quantum Slacks’

And a book (this website will get a few dimes if you buy it here.)


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24 Responses to Electron No Longer a Fundamental Particle ?

  1. NoBody says:

    Till our pseudo “”science”” won’t realize that ,
    Quantum Theory is just plain silly ..
    there would be always plenty of new imaginary particle discovery …
    the fact is ..

    everything went wrong since double-slit misinterpretation …

  2. Yerodretep says:

    Of course the electron is made up of something else; everything is!
    Naively wondering recently which ‘part’ interacts with photons etc….
    Probably curled up energy paves (Particle-waves as we have no nearer human concept)
    Shunyata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81) will no doubt prevail.

  3. Melvin Goldstein says:

    Numbers are the Supreme Court of science. However Godel proved that we may not prove everything using numbers. Physics needs numbers. There must be Physics Foibles. Always more to prove. Is physics diverging?

  4. Marky Mark Ali says:

    This is excellent news, I’ve been recently considering the idea the electrons are not fundamental particles, it explains the double slit experiment, electrons do not appear in two places at once or for that matter teleport from one place to another. What could be occurring is the electron loosing enough mass to be a measurable negative charge and at the same time a different electron gaining enough mass to show a measurable charge. Surely the acknowledgement of entropic effects to energy in a closed system should have destroyed any possibility of an electron being a fundamental particle.

  5. Pingback: Why Don’t Three Quarks Add Up to One Proton? (and its not even close) | Cosmology Science © 2011-2013 David Dilworth

  6. jamal Shrair says:

    Particles and subatomic particles can be coherently structured in only three possible ways.

    One type has a higher number of left hand rotations and this is what we call negatively charged particle.

    The other type has a higher number of right hand rotations and this is what we call positively charged particle.

    The third kind is formed from an equal number of left handed and right handed charges and this is what we call a neutral particle.

    Properties of atoms, particles and subatomic particles are defined by the number of these charges, their orientations and how they are structured to form a coherent object. The transfer of energy among these charges in their orbits is resonant and instantaneous.

    More importantly, the force that governs these charges, which is also permanently present in them, is the only absolute physical reality and everything else is only an appearance and manifestation of the magnetic structure of matter (MSM).

  7. Melvin Goldstein says:

    Numbers are the Supreme Court of science. However Godel proved that we may not prove everything. Science needs numbers. There must be Science and Physics Foibles!!

  8. Theory says:

    As the universe is fractal in nature, this article’s theory would imply that we could separate the earth into three components, consisting of spin, rotation and charge.

  9. M. Nader says:

    According to QFT (Editor: Quantum Field Theory) this is not fragmenting the electron, it is a mode of decay where the electron field ripple is branched into three components in a very special situation.

  10. David-Admin says:

    M. Nadar asks the highly relevant question

    “What is the physical meaning of what happened ?

    Responding with marvelous insight is Wuerzburg Universitaet’s Experimentelle Physik Professor Claessen who provides a useful analogy with Champagne bubbles.

    “The splitting of the electron in seemingly different parts is not real,
    but a combined effect of all electrons in the solid.

    [Regarding] the role and properties of electrons in solids.
    Let me start with the concept of the *effective* electron mass:
    in a solid the mass of the electron can strongly deviate from that of a free electron (i.e., in vacuum).

    As you may know, according to quantum mechanics an electron is actually a matter wave, which in vacuum can propagate freely,

    but in a solid gets scattered off the regular lattice of positively charged ions,
    similarly to light getting diffracted off an optical grating.

    The resulting interference effects strongly change the dispersion relation between electron wavelength and frequency (or equivalently, momentum and energy).

    The effective mass, which is essentially the inverse second derivative of the dispersion relation and describes the “inertness” of the electron against external fields or forces in the presence of the crystal lattice,
    thus generally deviates from that of a free electron. We call this effect mass renormalization.

    It may range from 1/10 of a free electron mass (m0) in typical semiconductors (e.g., GaAs) to 1000 x m0 in so-called heavy fermion compounds.

    The next important thing to know is that the many electrons in a solid
    may cooperate in such a way that their collective behavior
    can be described by the emergence of a new (quasi)particle.

    A famous example is the notion of a “hole” (or defect electron) in p-doped semiconductors.

    Such materials behave as if positively charged particles
    move through the solid and carry a current.

    What really happens is the following: without any doping the semiconductor is electrically neutral and strongly insulating. If you take one electron out of the valence band (by doping) the remaining N-1 electrons, when viewed against the positive background charge of all ions, conspire in such a way as if a positive charge would move in the opposite direction.

    It´s like a bubble in a glass of champagne:
    it´s not so much the air in the bubble that moves, but rather the water (or champagne) around it that makes it look [as though it is moving].

    The splitting of an electron into orbitons and spinons in a 1D solid is a very similar phenomenon,
    where the strong Coulomb interaction between the charged electrons leads to a highly correlated quantum mechanical state of all conduction electrons in the solid, which *looks* as if the spin and orbital degrees of freedom move separately with different velocities.

    It is not really a splitting of a single individual electron,
    but an emergent effect resulting from the cooperation of all electrons.
    Such effects occur frequently in materials with 3d or 4f electrons,
    where the interelectronic Coulomb interaction is particularly important,
    and constitute a fascinating research field, both from the viewpoint of fundamental physics as well as for potential applications in future microelectronics.”

  11. Nikola says:

    You are quite correct NoBody. For for every particle divided, there must be smaller and smaller particles until there is nothing.

    Mankind has a finite intellect which implies limited ability to comprehend. Every thing we interpret from our environment are sensory inputs through the nervous systems which end up in a “brain” which interprets our solid world. This occurs somewhere within the darkness of the skull. From birth, humans interpret the solid world by inputs from sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.

    Another paradigm… our solid world is a perception in a existence of nothing more or less than an exponentially greater holographic existence than man can devise. There is no universe


    • The Mad Genius says:

      This man gets it

    • Sai Ens says:

      Only one thing can be proven… That we, meaning our conscious-but only ours-exists. Our body might not exist, only us… Chew on that.

      • David says:

        Thank you for your contribution Sai.
        Yours really is a philosophy of science idea,
        but I’ll allow it considering the nebulousness of the concepts in my underlying article.

    • Val Mann says:

      How do you know that there are no “absolute truths?” If you know this absolutely, then your claim is false. And if you do not know this absolutely, then there might be absolute truths. And I am absolutely sure.

  12. A Person says:

    There were centuries that science was telling atom is the fundamental. Later it started saying it’s not atom but electrons, protons and neutrons. Now it says something about Spinon and Orbitron. This is science. It is always at “Not fully discovered yet” stage. If scientists can read what’s being said in Abhidhamma (in Buddhism) they will realize that they are heading to what load Buddha said. Why wasting time on what’s already been found? Abhidhamma clearly explained what the entire universe is built up of.

  13. wardell lindsay says:

    On the issue of electrons and charges, there is more than one charge, e and q.
    Space is not empty. Space is an aether. There is an electric resistance to electromagnetic fields. That resistance is called the free space impedance z=w/q=375 Ohms. z is related to Planck’s Constant h=zq^2=qw. The solution of the equation gives
    q=4/3E-18 C=25e/3 = Q(13U1d) quark and w=500E-18 Volt second (Weber).

    Fine Structure Constant Alpha = .5(e/q)^2 = .5(3/25)^2 = .5(.0144)=7.2E-3.
    Electron velocity is v=alpha c= 7.3E-3x300E6m/s= 2.16E6m/s in Hydrogen and Zxalpha c where Z is atomic charge. This dictates that Z be less than 139 charge.

    The Electric fields are related to h=qw and z=w/q ;
    E=cw/2pi r^2 = cB=zH = zcD= V/r

    nuff said for now.

  14. Hello David,
    Your readers might be interested in an alternative view on the composition of an electron: “The electron is a spin-1/2 charged photon generating the de Broglie wavelength”.
    Best wishes,

  15. Mody says:

    Matter is incarnation of information in space

  16. I can show you exactly what an Electron is – what its structure looks like and how its wave function is formulated. Please read my paper here:

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