In March 1938, the young Italian physicist Ettore Majorana disappeared mysteriously, leaving his country’s scientific community shaken. The episode remains unexplained, despite Leonardo Scascia’s attempt to unravel the enigma in his book The Disappearance of Majorana (1975).
Majorana, whom Enrico Fermi called a genius of Isaac Newton’s stature, vanished a year after making his main contribution to science. In 1937, when he was only 30, Majorana hypothesized a particle that is its own anti-particle and suggested that it might be the neutrino, whose existence had recently been predicted by Fermi and Wolfgang Pauli.
Eight decades later, Majorana fermions, or simply majoranas, are among the objects most studied by physicists. In addition to neutrinos – whose nature, whether or not they are majoranas, is one of the investigative goals of the mega-experiment Dune – another class not of fundamental particles but of quasi-particles or apparent particles has been investigated in the field of condensed matter. These Majorana quasi-particles can emerge as excitations in topological superconductors.
A new study by PhD student Luciano Henrique Siliano Ricco with a scholarship from the São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP, in collaboration with his supervisor Antonio Carlos Ferreira Seridonio and others, was conducted on the Ilha Solteira campus of São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil and described in an article in Scientific Reports.