(TheAtlantic) A team working at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada and the National Laboratory for Intense Magnetic Fields (LNCMI) in France, indicate that electrons inside a variety of ceramic crystals called “cuprates” seem to dissipate energy as quickly as possible, apparently bumping up against a fundamental quantum speed limit. Significantly, this speed limit is linked to the numerical value of Planck’s constant, the fundamental quantity of quantum mechanics representing the smallest possible action that can be taken in nature.
As they study the behavior of scrambled electrons using the holographic duality and other methods, researchers are gaining a sense of progress and partial insight. Some feel that the field is on a cusp of a conceptual breakthrough. “The experiments point to a tantalizing universality across materials, one that would involve a deep idea in quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics,” says Sean Hartnoll, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University. Hartnoll said of the Planckian-dissipation phenomenon, “I think it may be understood soon.”

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