Rutgers University-New Brunswick researchers discovered planet-like spinning electrons that could innovate solar cells, electronic displays, lasers, and in lighting. 

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study about these electrons and named it as a "chiral surface exciton" that is comprised of bound particles and anti-particles that swirl around each other on solid surfaces. 

Chiral means substances that are asymmetric in such a way that the structure and its mirror image are not superimposable. Examples are a person's right and left hands. 

When solids are exposed to intense light, excitons form that remove negatively-charged electrons from their areas and leaving behind positively-charged "holes," according to lead author Hsiang-Hsi (Sean) Kung, a graduate student in Physics Professor Girsh Blumberg's Rutgers Laser Spectroscopy Lab at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

These excitons and holes are similar to tops that spin rapidly. "Photoluminescence" is the light produced during the process as electrons move towards the holes while eliminating each other in less than a trillionth of a second. 

Bismuth selenide is where chiral excitons were discovered. The possibilities of it being economical increase as it can be subjected to mass production and be utilized in materials in electronics at room temperature. 

"Bismuth selenide is a fascinating compound that belongs to a family of quantum materials called 'topological insulators,'" said senior author Blumberg, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences. "They have several channels on the surface that are highly efficient in conducting electricity."

Researches about chiral excitons are at their early stages and researchers desire to utilize ultra-fast imaging to study them.