The field of quantum computing may have just received a coherence and error-proofing boost in the form of parafermions: clustered electrons that behave like liquids in a special state of matter. Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (opens in new tab) have demonstrated experimental results that they expect to lead to parafermions when electrons are maintained at temperatures close to absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius). The research achieved a breakthrough by demonstrating that there are conditions under which electrons can have strong interactions – something that scientists have until now only theorized.

The orderly movement of electrons results in what we know as electricity. However, even when the electrons are moving in this “ordered” pattern, they really aren’t. Because they are negatively charged, the electrons repel each other, tending to move individually and chaotically in different directions (like a gas) instead of as a cohesive whole. They are similar to disabled drivers: they may reach their destination with a few “bumps” along the way. But when electrons behave like a liquid, it’s similar to replacing damaged drivers with normal ones; drivers who know and respect each other’s limits, speed and direction to reduce conflicts and better reach their destination.