Tangible products—like a solar-powered hearing aid—may come from not-so-real particles. More particular, scientists analyze the behaviour of modern materials with the help of imaginary structures called quasiparticles. (1)
In physics, quasiparticles and collective excitations (which are closely related) are emergent phenomena that occur when a microscopically complicated system such as a solid behaves as if it contained different weakly interacting particles in free space. For example, as an electron travels through a semiconductor, its motion is disturbed in a complex way by its interactions with all of the other electrons and nuclei; however it approximately behaves like an electron with a different mass traveling unperturbed through free space. This “electron” with a different mass is called an “electron quasiparticle”. (2)
A dropleton or quantum droplet is an artificial quasiparticle, constituting a collection of electrons and places without them inside a semiconductor. Dropleton is the first known quasiparticle that behaves like a liquid. The creation of dropletons was announced on 26 February 2014 in a Nature article, that presented evidence for the creation of dropletons in an electron–hole plasma inside a gallium arsenide quantum well by ultrashort laser pulses. (3)
So there you go.
Imaginary particles… explaining tangible things.
It sounds as illogical.
And it would be.
If the things we consider “imaginary” were indeed that…
If the things we consider “tangible” were indeed that…