Observation and spectroscopy of a two-electron Wigner molecule in an ultraclean carbon nanotube

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Two electrons on a string form a simple model system where Coulomb interactions are expected to play an interesting role. In the presence of strong interactions, these electrons are predicted to form a Wigner molecule, separating to the ends of the string. This spatial structure is believed to be clearly imprinted on the energy spectrum, yet so far a direct measurement of such a spectrum in a controllable one-dimensional setting is still missing. Here we use an ultraclean carbon nanotube to realize this system in a tunable potential. Using tunnelling spectroscopy we measure the addition spectra of two interacting carriers, electrons or holes, and identify seven low-energy states characterized by their exchange symmetries. The formation of a Wigner molecule is evident from a tenfold quenching of the fundamental excitation energy as compared with the non-interacting value. Our ability to tune the two-carrier state in space and to study it for both electrons and holes provides an unambiguous demonstration of this strongly interacting quantum ground state.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Physics
Pages (from-to)576-581
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Preprint available at http://arxiv.org/abs/1302.1877.

ID: 91302444