The dark matter candidate can generate string-like units in exotic materials

An artist’s impression of an axis, a hypothetical elementary particle, which is called upon to explain why charge-parity symmetry is preserved in quantum chromodynamics. Those who have since been proposed as a leading candidate for dark matter. Credit: © RAMON ANDRADE 3DCIENCIA / PHOTO AND SCIENCE LIBRARY

Calculations show how theoretical ‘action strings’ can create strange behaviors if produced in exotic materials in the laboratory.

A hypothetical particle that could solve one of the biggest enigmas in cosmology just got a little less mysterious. A RIKEN physicist and two of his colleagues have discovered mathematical basics that could explain how so-called stocks can generate string-like units that create a strange tension in laboratory materials.

Actions were first proposed in the 1970s by physicists studying the theory of quantum chromodynamics, which describes how several elementary particles are held together within the atomic nucleus. The problem was that this theory predicted some strange properties for known particles that were not observed. To fix this, physicists introduced a new particle – later called the stock, after a brand of laundry detergent, because it helped clear up a mess in theory.

Physicists quickly realized that stocks could also clear up a cosmic enigma. More than 80% of the matter in the Universe is thought to consist of a mysterious, invisible substance called dark matter. “Shares are a candidate for dark matter, but we have not yet found them,” says Yoshimasa Hidaka, of the RIKEN Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Program. Stocks can have the right properties, so physicists have looked for signs that they exist in numerous experiments. In June 2020, the XENON1T experiment at Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy reported hints that they may have discovered the action – but this result has not yet been confirmed.

But there is another arena where the properties of the axis can be studied. Physicists can prepare exotic materials – called topological insulators – in the laboratory, which exhibit strange properties, such as conducting electricity to their surfaces while leaving electrical insulators inside. Such materials exhibit other strange behaviors. Sometimes, their electrons cluster together and move in such a way that the material appears to be made of ‘quasi-particles’ with unusual properties. This can create a sudden tension across the material, called the Abnormal Hall effect.

Action is also predicted to arise in this way, in topological insulators, where it must interact with light particles, or photons, in a different way from regular particles.

Hidaka and his two colleagues have now examined the theory that regulates the interaction between axes and photons. Although axes are particle-like particles, the team calculated that within materials, light actually interacts with elongated configurations like strands made of axes, called action strings. This would lead to the abnormal Hall effect, which is observed in experiments.

“We have found the basic mathematical structure for the phenomenon,” says Hidaka.

Reference: “Higher shape and 3-group symmetry in axis electrodynamics” by Yoshimasa Hidaka, Muneto Nitta and Ryo Yokokura, 4 August 2020, Letters of physics B.
DOI: 10.1016 / j.physletb.2020.135672

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