Hall effect, experiment that shows the sign of the charge carriers in a conductor. In 1879 E. H. Hall discovered that when he placed a metal strip carrying a current in a magnetic field, a voltage difference was produced across the strip. The side of the strip that is at the higher voltage depends on the sign of the charge carrier; Hall's work demonstrated that in metals the charge carriers are negative. Today it is known that this negative charge carrier is the electron. The Hall effect has again become an active area of research with the discovery of the quantized Hall effect, for which Klaus von Klitzing was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize in physics. Before von Klitzing's work it was thought that the amount of voltage difference across the strip varied in direct proportion to the strength of the magnetic field—the greater the magnetic field, the greater the voltage difference. Von Klitzing showed that under the special conditions of low temperature, high magnetic field, and two-dimensional electronic systems (in which the electrons are confined to move in planes), the voltage difference increases as a series of steps with increasing magnetic field.
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