Electrons break fundamental physics law – Ohm’s law in fluids

Ripplopolarons defy Ohm’s law of physics.

What if electrons break the Ohm’s law when they travel through a fluid medium? According to Scientists in the Quantum Dynamics Unit at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), if the electrons sit on fluid, they might break the Ohm’s law. Their study is published in Physical Review Letters

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Ohm’s law states that electrical current is directly proportional to the voltage and inversely proportional to the resistance. 

Ohm’s law

Current (I) = Voltage (V) / Resistance (R)

The flow of current in a wire has a similarity to the flow of water in a pipe. Water flows from high pressure to low pressure. The amount of water is affected by the water pressure and the size of the tube. Similarly, electrons flow from high voltage to low voltage; the amount of electrons or the measure of electric current depends on the voltage difference and the resistance of the wire. 

If we split the wire lengthwise into two identical segments with the same resistance, then half of the electrons will flow in each wire segment. But according to Professor Konstantinov from OIST, “If the electrons are sitting on liquid, rather than in a solid, they might break Ohm’s law. That’s what we wanted to measure.

The Research

The T-shaped microchannel device consists of three reservoirs with a T-junction linking them. Credit: OIST

The researchers created three micro reservoirs connected by a ‘T’ shaped junction and slightly submerged them in superfluid Helium. Superfluid Helium remains in a liquid state at absolute zero, and the behaves like a fluid with zero viscosity and hence zero resistance. The electrons can sit on the surface of this fluid instead of sinking.  

As electrons moved and disturbed this fluid, they created ripples or capillary waves. At higher electron densities, the electrons became trapped in the shallow dimples of the wave. The researchers called them ripplopolarons as they are slightly different from the traditional polarons. Tradition polarons are electrons dressed in a cloud of medium they sit in.  

When an electron is sitting in superfluid helium, it can become trapped in a dimple of the fluid and form a ripplopolaron. Scientists wanted to see if this would alter the electron’s behavior. Credit: OIST

An electric current was applied to move the ripplopolarons from the left reservoir. When they reached the ‘T’ junction, they simply moved straight to the right reservoir, following the momentum conservation rather than Ohm’s law. As per Ohm’s law, they should have moved to both the reservoirs in equal densities. Reserving the flow resulted in a similar result. However, applying current to the out of the side reservoir didn’t result in the same result. The ripplopolarons crashed into the wall at the top and became free electrons, and started following Ohm’s law. They moved to both right and left reservoirs in equal densities.

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This research was conducted out of curiosity. However, understanding the behavior of electrons in fluids could be useful in building qubits, the fundamental unit of quantum computers. We can create a flexible, moveable architecture for quantum computers using electrons in fluids. 

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Source: Scitechdaily.com

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