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Definition: quantum state

A fundamental attribute of particles according to quantum mechanics. The quantum states are primarily x-y-z position, momentum, angular momentum, energy, spin and time.

The shell structures of the atom are made up of fermion particles, which include the protons and neutrons in the nucleus and the electrons in the outer orbits. Fermions cannot share the same quantum state variables. For example, every electron traveling in electric current has a different quantum state than the electron next to it. The fermion was named after Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901-1954).

Bosons are particles that can be in the same quantum state. Photons are examples of bosons, and lasers, masers and the superfluidity Helium derive their behavior as a result. The boson, pronounced "bow-son," was named after Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose (1894-1974). See quantum mechanics, electron, photon and Higgs boson.