Researchers first to observe Higgs boson analogue in superconductors

February 19, 2015, Bar-Ilan University
A graphic shows particle traces extending from a proton-proton collision at the Large Hadron Collider in 2012. The event shows characteristics expected from the decay of the Standard Model Higgs boson to a pair of photons. Further analysis of collisions in 2011 and 2012 has found evidence that the Higgs also decays into fermion particles, according to a new paper in Nature Physics to which Rice University scientists contributed. Credit: CERN

The Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the Higgs boson - the "God particle" believed responsible for all the mass in the universe - took place in 2012 at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, an underground facility where accelerated sub-atomic particles zip around the circumference of a 27-kilometer (16.9-mile) ring-shaped tunnel. But what goes around comes around: more than 50 years ago, the first hint of Higgs was inspired by the study of superconductors - a special class of metals that, when cooled to very low temperatures, allow electrons to move without resistance.

Now, a research team led by Israeli and German physicists has closed a circle, by reporting the first-ever observations of the Higgs mode in superconducting materials.

Unlike the mega-expensive sub-atomic smashups at CERN - a facility that cost about $4.75 billion to build - these findings, presented in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Physics, were achieved through experiments conducted in a regular laboratory at relatively low cost.

The discovery of the Higgs boson verified the Standard Model, which predicted that particles gain mass by passing through a field that slows down their movement through the vacuum of space. "Just as the CERN experiments revealed the existence of the Higgs boson in a high-energy accelerator environment, we have now revealed a Higgs boson analogue in ," says Prof. Aviad Frydman, a member of Bar-Ilan University's Department of Physics, who directed the study together with Prof. Martin Dressel, of Stuttgart University, as part of an international collaboration that also included other research teams from Israel, India and the United States. Doctoral student Daniel Sherman, a member of Frydman's Bar-Ilan laboratory, conducted much of the investigation and is listed as the publication's first author.

Frydman explains that the new discovery brings the search for the Higgs boson back to its source. "Ironically, while the discussion about this 'missing link' in the Standard Model was inspired by superconductor theory, the Higgs mode was never actually observed in superconductors because of technical difficulties - difficulties that we've managed to overcome."

In their Nature Physics publication, Frydman and his colleagues describe a new method for conducting Higgs physics experiments. "The high energy required to excite a Higgs mode in superconductors tends to break apart the electron pairs serving as this type of material's basic charge. This causes rapid decay into particle-hole pairs, and suppresses the material's superconducting nature," Frydman says. "We solved this problem by using disordered and ultra-thin superconducting films of Niobium Nitrite (NbN) and Indium Oxide (InO) near the superconductor-insulator critical point - a state in which recent theory predicted the rapid decay of the Higgs would no longer occur. This created the conditions to excite a Higgs mode at relatively low energies."

According to Frydman, observation of the Higgs mechanism in superconductors is significant because it reveals how a single type of physical process behaves under drastically different energy conditions. "Exciting the Higgs mode in a particle accelerator requires enormous energy levels - measured in giga-electronvolts, or 109 eV," Frydman says. "The parallel phenomenon in superconductors occurs on a different energy scale entirely - just one-thousandth of a single electronvolt. What's exciting is to see how, even in these highly disparate systems, the same fundamental physics is at work."

Moreover, the robust nature of the newly-observed Higgs mode in superconductors could make it easier for scientists to study the still-controversial "God particle" - the elusive "missing link" in the Standard Theory of particle physics believed responsible for imparting mass to all the matter in the universe. Thanks to this new approach, it may soon be possible to solve long-standing mysteries of fundamental physics, through experiments conducted - not in a multi-billion dollar accelerator complex - but on a laboratory tabletop.

Explore further: Broadest set of results to date about the properties of the Higgs boson

More information: The Higgs mode in disordered superconductors close to a quantum phase transition, Nature Physics 11, 188–192 (2015) DOI: 10.1038/nphys3227

Related Stories

Maybe it wasn't the Higgs particle after all

November 7, 2014

Last year CERN announced the finding of a new elementary particle, the Higgs particle. But maybe it wasn't the Higgs particle, maybe it just looks like it. And maybe it is not alone.

Possible discovery in 2015 of a new particle in physics

February 15, 2015

The world's largest atom-smasher could help physicists understand mysterious dark matter in the universe, and later this year it may offer a discovery even more fascinating than the Higgs-Boson, researchers say.

Evidence found for the Higgs boson direct decay into fermions

June 22, 2014

For the first time, researchers at CERN have found evidence for the direct decay of the Higgs boson into fermions—another strong indication that the particle discovered in 2012 behaves in the way the standard model of particle ...

ATLAS sees Higgs boson decay to fermions

November 28, 2013

The ATLAS experiment at CERN has released preliminary results that show evidence that the Higgs boson decays to two tau particles. Taus belong to a group of subatomic particles called the fermions, which make up matter. ...

Recommended for you

Understanding the building blocks for an electronic brain

October 22, 2018

Computer bits are binary, with a value of zero or one. By contrast, neurons in the brain can have many internal states, depending on the input that they receive. This allows the brain to process information in a more energy-efficient ...

Researchers study interactions in molecules using AI

October 19, 2018

Researchers from the University of Luxembourg, Technische Universität Berlin, and the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society have combined machine learning and quantum mechanics to predict the dynamics and atomic ...

16 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

daqman
4.3 / 5 (11) Feb 19, 2015
I read the article three times and have no idea what the "Higgs mode" in a superconductor is. You could at the very minimum provide a link, other than the link to Nature Physics, that provides a simple explanation. Now I've got to Google....
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 19, 2015
I read the article three times and have no idea what the "Higgs mode"

Google for "Anderson-Higgs mechanism"
PhysicsMatter
2 / 5 (5) Feb 19, 2015
While in fact existence of higgs boson has not been definitively proven yet, due to insufficient data obtained from LHC so far, as claimed by Danish scientists who say that whatever was observed may be anything not necessarily higgs boson, now we have here new "cold fusion" type of revelations from a graduate student who claims to "detect" higgs boson "mode" * with cheap setting of 1/1000 eV instead with 7/14 TeV energy level at $20 Billion LHC facility, if I read it right.

I guess somebody will have some explaining to do. Talking about micro-cosmic overhead cost.

* I'm guessing "mode" means a wave(function)
clivehol
4.4 / 5 (10) Feb 19, 2015
Please do NOT refer to the Higgs Boson as the "god" particle. It is VERY unscientific
bid
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 19, 2015
PhysicsMatter : You mean aside from the fact that the theories that allowed them to make it happen are quite new and this work wouldn't have been possible before? ;)
pauljpease
4 / 5 (8) Feb 19, 2015
While in fact existence of higgs boson has not been definitively proven yet, due to insufficient data obtained from LHC so far, as claimed by Danish scientists who say that whatever was observed may be anything not necessarily higgs boson, now we have here new "cold fusion" type of revelations from a graduate student who claims to "detect" higgs boson "mode" * with cheap setting of 1/1000 eV instead with 7/14 TeV energy level at $20 Billion LHC facility, if I read it right.

I guess somebody will have some explaining to do. Talking about micro-cosmic overhead cost.

* I'm guessing "mode" means a wave(function)


It's very difficult for non-experts to understand the distinction, but there is a difference and both experiments must be done, one does not negate the need for the other. When reading science news as a non-expert in a particular field, first remember that it would take a lifetime of study to understand what these scientists are doing. Not a few minutes.
Stevepidge
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 19, 2015
Please do NOT refer to the Higgs Boson as the "god" particle. It is VERY unscientific


yeah, kinda like "dark" matter.
saila
5 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2015
I thought that a particle was found but that we have so far no idea of what it does in its everyday life. By the way, I am just confused.

Does this paper assume that the event they observed is caused by the Higgs Boson or they actually have a full proof, isolating the particle somehow, that it is the particle that was also identified by the CERN that caused the event?

Or they found that what caused the event they observed must be a gravitational field (and then they just associate it with the Higgs Boson particle without physically prove it)?

Thanks you for the clarification!
saila
5 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2015
While in fact existence of higgs boson has not been definitively proven yet, due to insufficient data obtained from LHC so far, as claimed by Danish scientists who say that whatever was observed may be anything not necessarily higgs boson, now we have here new "cold fusion" type of revelations from a graduate student who claims to "detect" higgs boson "mode" * with cheap setting of 1/1000 eV instead with 7/14 TeV energy level at $20 Billion LHC facility, if I read it right.

I guess somebody will have some explaining to do. Talking about micro-cosmic overhead cost.

* I'm guessing "mode" means a wave(function)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you for the clarification, I also had strong doubt about the somewhat physics terminology abusing aspect of this paper.

dan42day
5 / 5 (6) Feb 19, 2015
There was an analogue to the higgs bosen at the office festivus party last year. It managed to increase the mass of everyone who attended. This effect was mediated by large quantities of an exotic particle called the marinated mini-meatball.
Nashingun
1 / 5 (3) Feb 20, 2015
For a fact. Higgs boson has not been found. physicists around the world questions its validity and actual existence. Just look at the very visual representation of the smashed particles posted above showing nothing more than the collision. Apart from that they can't provide anything significant that portrays the Higgs particle, more so the current observable condition CERN presents, the very reason they wanted more power to LHC, that although we know would not do them any good, but the usual extravagant wasteful spending on nothing. A typical garbage science, a mere joke for every human eyes.
Nashingun
1 / 5 (3) Feb 20, 2015
CERN scientists will keep adding up junk theories and ideas to complicate their previous unverified soft proof of Higgs boson dig it down to in-definitive level and say this study is totally complicated that only intelligent people will understand. But when applied to our present reality it totally fails the existence of the universe. Boom! There goes the fake science failing at practical application.
DarkLordKelvin
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 20, 2015
Excitation at 109 eV is extremely strong, especially for superconductors. What they think they see may not be what is actually happening. Something wrong here.


You need to read more carefully .. first of all, that was 10^9 eV (billions of eV), and they were referring to the CERN experiments. The superconductor experiments were done with "one thousandth of a single electron volt" .. it's right there in the same paragraph.
big_hairy_jimbo
not rated yet Feb 21, 2015
Are they talking about the SAME Higgs that was "discovered" at CERN, OR as the ARTICLE states, an ANALOGUE!!!!!! To me an Analogue means something that ISN'T THE SAME, but can be DESCRIBED USING THE SAME MATHEMATICAL PRINCIPLES. There was an article on here the other day about Black Holes being an ANALOGUE for superconductors as well. I think the term ANALOGUE is what needs clarifying here.
Nattydread
not rated yet Feb 24, 2015
It appears that subatomic particles are in fact quasi-particles of the same type in solid-state physics. This is why we see so many theories being analogous to each other in both fields. Now we should really be answering the bigger question: What is the medium of the "fundamental" quasiparticles?
DarkLordKelvin
3 / 5 (2) Feb 24, 2015
It appears that subatomic particles are in fact quasi-particles of the same type in solid-state physics. This is why we see so many theories being analogous to each other in both fields. Now we should really be answering the bigger question: What is the medium of the "fundamental" quasiparticles?


"Fundamental quasiparticle" is an oxymoron, however your question answers itself. Quasiparticles are comprised of fundamental particles (e.g. electrons) or their absence (e.g. holes) in the host material: the host material is the "medium".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.