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Slovenian researchers in major materials breakthrough

A group of researchers from the Jožef Stefan Institute has discovered what they describe as an entirely new kind of matter that cannot be understood with existing physics and which opens up an entirely new field. Their paper was published in the latest issue of Nature Materials.

Conducting experiments designed to create new kinds of quantum materials under non-equilibrium conditions, the researchers used short laser pulses to crate an unusually thick amorphous matter in which electrons become jammed because of strong interaction.

The researchers say the discovery, which falls in the domain of quantum physics, is fundamentally important in that it opens a new area of research that represents a huge challenge for the present state-of-the-art in quantum physics.

The jamming of electrons may occur whenever fundamental particles undergo fast compression at high density, for example in nuclei or in neutron stars. It also has potential practical utility since it can be controlled.

The research team discovered the phenomenon in 2016 but then needed three years to describe it and experimentally confirm it.

The new phenomenon has been dubbed "electron jamming" and is described in detail in the paper "Quantum jamming transition to a correlated electron glass in 1T-TaS 2".

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