When the kinetic energy of a collection of interacting two-dimensional (2D) electrons is quenched at very high magnetic fields so that the Coulomb repulsion dominates, the electrons are expected to condense into an ordered array, forming a quantum Wigner crystal (WC). Although this exotic state has long been suspected in high-mobility 2D electron systems at very low Landau level fillings (ν1), its direct observation has been elusive. Here we present a new technique and experimental results directly probing the magnetic-field-induced WC. We measure the magnetoresistance of a bilayer electron system where one layer has a very low density and is in the WC regime (ν1), while the other ("probe") layer is near ν=1/2 and hosts a sea of composite fermions (CFS). The data exhibit commensurability oscillations in the magnetoresistance of the CF layer, induced by the periodic potential of WC electrons in the other layer, and provide a unique, direct glimpse at the symmetry of the WC, its lattice constant, and melting. They also demonstrate a striking example of how one can probe an exotic many-body state of 2D electrons using equally exotic quasiparticles of another many-body state.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Physics and Astronomy