Electrons and Crystals (Science For Everyone)

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Top Stories of By Shannon Palus Thursday, December 22, A Majorana fermion bright white, center creates rippled signatures in a quantum spin liquid as neutrons are fired at a ruthenium trichloride crystal atomic structure shown to the left. You might also like. What Are FRBs? Could We Travel Through a Wormhole?

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I even thought my leg was being pulled, but later on Ohl gave me that piece or another piece cut out of the same chunk, so I was able to investigate it in my own laboratory. Russell Ohl didn't agree. He kept right on studying crystals, occasionally having to fight Bell Labs administration to let him do it.

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Ohl thought silicon crystals' erratic behavior was due to impurities in the crystal, not any problem in the silicon itself. He thought that if he could purify silicon enough, the crystals just might provide the improved radio broadcasting capabilities for which everyone was looking. A Quirky Crystal Much of his research in was devoted to producing ultra-pure crystals.

As he expected, his purified silicon crystals-- now They worked the way a rectifier should, allowing current to flow in one direction and not the other. At least, most of them worked. On February 23, Ohl sat down to examine a particularly curious crystal that was as quirky as the cat's whisker crystals of old.

Electrons and Crystals (Science for Everyone)

The crystal had a crack down the middle. Ohl was examining how much current flowed through one side of the crack versus the other, when he noticed something peculiar.

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The amount of current changed when the crystal was held over a bowl of water. And a hot soldering iron.

And an incandescent lamp on the desk in the room. By early afternoon, Ohl realized that it was in fact light shining on the crystal that caused this small current to begin trickling through it. On March 6, he showed his prize silicon rod to Mervin Kelly. Kelly quickly called Walter Brattain and Joseph Becker to the scene.

Ohl had his coal-black crystal attached to a voltmeter in front of him.

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  • He turned on a flashlight, aimed it at the silicon, and the voltage instantly jumped up to half a volt. This was ten times anything Brattain had ever seen before.