Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Graphene Gives Hints Of The Higgs?

That's what a new PRL publication seems to claim. In it, one can actually find, in graphene, an analogous situation to the electroweak symmetry breaking that characterizes the Higgs field[1].

Spontaneous symmetry-breaking lies at the heart of the analogy – graphene loses some symmetry in the transition from a flat shape to a rippled one, in the same way as the "activation" of the Higgs field is tied to the breaking of the electroweak symmetry. Compared with grand cosmological scales, sheets of carbon might seem a bit pedestrian, but San-Jose thinks otherwise. "Measuring the rippling of graphene under variable tension could give us information about the details of the intrinsic condensation of the Higgs," he says.

This is another example where condensed matter systems can provide important and fundamental information in physics. It is why I've always argued that condensed matter physics isn't JUST "applied physics". It is why systems such as the newly-discovered topological insulators are so fascinating and so rich. There are some very fundamental physics that can be studied and tested in such systems.


[1] P. San-Jose et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. v.106, p.045502 (2011).


Rolando said...

Aw! come on! Spontaneous symmetry breaking has existed in CMP for years! This graphene thing is just one of the latest examples. The most clear (and probably the first) was that of superconductivity in the work of Phil Anderson: Phys. Rev. 110, 827–835 (1958) and Phys. Rev. 130, 439–442 (1963).

ZapperZ said...

Er.. did you even read the other link in that blog entry? We know this already, and it has been mentioned at least a couple of times already.