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Nature. 2008 Apr 17;452(7189):829-34. doi: 10.1038/nature06855.

Observation of a quarter of an electron charge at the nu = 5/2 quantum Hall state.

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Braun Center for Submicron Research, Department of Condensed Matter Physics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


The fractional quantum Hall effect, where plateaus in the Hall resistance at values of h/nue2 coexist with zeros in the longitudinal resistance, results from electron correlations in two dimensions under a strong magnetic field. (Here h is Planck's constant, nu the filling factor and e the electron charge.) Current flows along the sample edges and is carried by charged excitations (quasiparticles) whose charge is a fraction of the electron charge. Although earlier research concentrated on odd denominator fractional values of nu, the observation of the even denominator nu = 5/2 state sparked much interest. This state is conjectured to be characterized by quasiparticles of charge e/4, whose statistics are 'non-abelian'-in other words, interchanging two quasiparticles may modify the state of the system into a different one, rather than just adding a phase as is the case for fermions or bosons. As such, these quasiparticles may be useful for the construction of a topological quantum computer. Here we report data on shot noise generated by partitioning edge currents in the nu = 5/2 state, consistent with the charge of the quasiparticle being e/4, and inconsistent with other possible values, such as e/2 and e. Although this finding does not prove the non-abelian nature of the nu = 5/2 state, it is the first step towards a full understanding of these new fractional charges.

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