JERUSALEM, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Israeli scientists have shown that electrons can form, like atoms, an organized structure to form a solid inside a solid, the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) reported Thursday.
In a study published in the journal Science, the WIS researchers image such electron solid showing electrons arranged in a row on a nanowire, like birds on wire.
The question whether electrons can form a gas, liquid or even a solid crystal, just like atoms, was first posed 80 years ago by the Nobel laureate in Physics Eugene Wigner, and has remained open ever since.
Electron's extremely small masses constantly make them "jitter" and thus they have high kinetic energy of movement.
Therefore, many scientists doubted that electrons could have interactions that would be significant enough to produce such crystal orderly structure.
However, the Israeli team succeeded in this effort to directly observe such an electron quantum structure within various types of solid materials by a unique experimental system they developed.
This system enabled them, for the first time ever, to observe the existence of a electron solid by imaging it.
The team said it created the most sensitive detector in the world for an electric field, with the ability of sensing and identifying the electric field of a single electron.
The detector is made of a nanowire that "floats" over a material without touching it, but senses the tiny electric field of each individual electron within.
The material measured in the experiment also consisted of a nanowire, where electrons arranged themselves in orderly, equidistant positions.
This combination of nanowires, one to detect and one to hold the electrons, enabled the researchers to observe the structure of the electrons.