Quasiparticles

Elementary particles are not so much discrete “balls” of matter like marbles or planets as they are “clouds” of localized characteristics. Particles are often “fuzzy” around the edges, in terms of describing their physical limits and their location in space. But we know that these clouds or lumps that we call particles can interact with each other in very predictable manners.

We can also describe clouds or lumps or waves of localized characteristics that don’t seem to be particles themselves, as a kind of psuedo-particle or quasiparticle. A single bow wave caused by a boat in a canal is known as a soliton. Vibrations inside matter have been called phonons. Oscillations in plasma can be called plasmons. An electron hole is a place where an electron might be found in an atom but is not currently there. All of these are categorized as quasiparticles. A crowd in a sports stadium doing the “wave” (a wave of motion that appears to move across the surface of the crowd), is a macro example of a quasiparticle.

Quasiparticles can exhibit particle-like characteristics, behavior and interactions, even though they are not actually discrete particles and exist only as a form of “collective” action inside some substance. They often act like a fluid, and can be studied using the principles of fluid dynamics. The interest in studying quasiparticle phenomenon centers on solid state electronics, nanoelectronics and superconducting.

SEE ALSO:
Our Knowledge of Matter and Energy
1834 – soliton

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