A First: Scientists Detect Higgs Boson without Using the LHC

By | Feb 21, 2015 08:41 AM EST

The Large Hadron Collider: the world's largest and most powerful particle collider.(Photo : CERN)

An international research team of physicists from the U.S., Germany, Israel and India have reported the first-ever sighting of the Higgs boson in superconducting materials.

More remarkably, these findings were achieved with experiments conducted in a regular laboratory at relatively low cost. This success boosts the chances of observing the Higgs boson, popularly referred to as the "God particle", using inexpensive table top experiments anywhere in the world.

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The Higgs was first detected in 2012 using the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland built and run by the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN. LHC is the world's largest and most powerful particle collider, and the largest single machine in the world.

One of the main reasons for building the LHC was to search evidence for the Higgs field and the God Particle. The Higgs field is an invisible, permeating space, interacting with particles to provide their mass.

"The high energy required to excite a Higgs mode in superconductors tends to break apart the electron pairs serving as this type of material's basic charge. This causes rapid decay into particle-hole pairs, and suppresses the material's superconducting nature," said Prof Aviad Frydman, a member of Bar-Ilan University's Department of Physics, who directed the study along with Prof Martin Dressel of the University of Stuttgart.

"Just as the CERN experiments revealed the existence of the Higgs boson in a high-energy accelerator environment, we have now revealed a Higgs boson analogue in superconductors,"

Frydman and his colleagues used disordered and ultra-thin superconducting films of Niobium Nitrite (NbN) and Indium Oxide (InO) near the superconductor-insulator critical point to create the conditions to excite a Higgs mode at relatively low energies.

They said the energy scale was just one thousandth of an electron volt compared to the giga electron volts in accelerators such as the LHC.

But more important, the relatively more stable nature of the newly-observed Higgs mode in superconductors made it easier for scientists to observe the elusive "God particle."

A superconductor is a material that conducts electricity or transports electrons from one atom to another with no resistance. This means the material releases no heat, sound or any other form of energy when it reaches "critical temperature" (Tc), or the temperature at which the material becomes superconductive. 

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