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In the first edition of the new Amsterdam Science Magazine, Jasper van Wezel (ITFA) describes his research on electronic corkscrews.

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The regular arrangement of atoms within a solid, crystalline material forms a constant background to which its electrons must conform. We recently discovered that it is possible for electrons in certain materials to break free from the rules imposed by such atomic arrangements, and assemble into collective structures shaped like corkscrews. The possible applications of these electronic corkscrews in technology as well as fields of science ranging from chemistry to robotics are currently being investigated at the University of Amsterdam.

It has been known for several decades that given the right circumstances, electrons in semiconducting materials refuse to march in time with the atomic lattice in which they live, and instead gather into collective structures that do not fit snugly into their atomic backgrounds.

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Typical arrangements formed by the electrons as they rebel against the order of the atomic lattice include stripes, checkers, honeycombs, and their three-dimensional equivalents.

Further reading:  Amsterdam Science Magazine

 

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Jasper van Wezel recently received a Vidi-grant for his research on electronic corkscrews.