Washington: Physicists claim to have split into half a simulated electron, which they say is not possible by a physical process.

A team from Duke University, the University of Zurich and the University of Waterloo in Canada achieved the results by using several massive supercomputers, the 'Science' journal reported in its latest edition.

In the simulations, the physicists developed a virtual crystal. Under extremely low temperatures in the computer model, the crystal turned into a quantum fluid, an exotic state of matter where electrons begin to condense.

The quasiparticles formed in this simulation show what happens if a fundamental particle were busted up, so an electron can't be physically smashed into anything smaller, but it can be broken up metaphorically, Matthew Hastings, who led the team, said.

The team member divided one up by placing a virtual particle with the fundamental charge of an electron into their simulated quantum fluid. Under the conditions, the particle fractured into two pieces, each of which took on one-half of the original's negative charge.

As they observed the new sub-particles and change the constraints of the simulated environment, the physicists were also able to measure several universal numbers characterizing the motions of the electron fragments.

The results provide scientists with information to look for signatures of electron pieces in other simulations, experiments and theoretical studies, says the team.