Experimental Observations Reveal the Mystery of Majorana Fermions


About three quarters of a century ago, Ettore Majorana introduced the novel elusive particles into theoretical physics, what are now known as "Marjorana fermions", unlike electrons and positrons, which constitute their own antiparticles. The monumental significance of this development required many intervening decades to fully appreciate, and despite being an "old" idea Majorana fermion remain central to diverse problems across modern physics, not only in neutrino physics, super-symmetry and dark matter, but also on some exotic states of condensed matter.

The observation of Majorana fermions in condensed matter would certainly constitute a landmark achievement from a fundamental physics standpoint, both because it could mean the first realization of Ettore Majoranna's theoretical discovery and, for more importantly, because of the non-Abelian statistics that they harbor. Moreover, success in this search might ultimately prove essential to overcoming one of the grand challenges in the field-the synthesis of a scalable quantum computer.

In 2008, Fu and Kane provided a groundbreaking development by theoretically predicting that Majorana bound states can appear at the interface between topological insulators (TIs) and superconductors. Topological superconductors (TSCs) become a research focus soon after they were theoretically expected to host Majorana fermions. So far, however, no TSC materials have been found in nature although there are some possible candidates. The theoretical work proposed that a topological insulator surface should show topological superconductivity when it is covered by a normal superconductor, i.e., a SC/TI heterostructure. In practice, however, it is difficult to grow a SC on a TI surface due to the poor thermo-stability of the TI materials and the chemical reaction at the interface. In 2012, Prof. Jinfeng Jia's group of Shanghai Jiao Tong University published a paper in Science (Science 336, 52-55 (2012)) which re Tonu.cn/" sgls-rjoranaoes acce,e, hper>Shanghagls-s and poee-ng Jia's groupadding-t

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