Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Dec 21, 2012 in Science |

Discovery of a new state of magnetism

Discovery of a new state of magnetism

A group of MIT researchers have discovered a new state of matter through a new type of magnetism. Referred to by scientists as quantum spin liquid (QSL) , this condition could lead to significant advances in data storage, new types of communications systems or the development of quantum computing.

Until now, usually when we talked about in the field of technology referred only to two types: ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism. Ferromagnetism is known for centuries, it is the underlying force behind turning the compass needle or permanent bar magnets. In this type of magnetism of each electron charge is aligned in the same direction, leading to two different poles. In contrast, antiferromagnetism, electrons between neighboring points are in opposite direction, resulting in the cancellation if they have the same absolute value. Combined with ferromagnets, antiferromagnets materials are used to create spin valves, sensors magnetic heads used in hard disk.

For QSL crystal material is a solid (although the internal magnetic state is constant). The research focused on the study of this crystal of a rare mineral that was named after herbertsmithite. A material that researchers thought it was why he was given a neutron beam in order to analyze its structure and determine whether or not quantum spin liquid.

Scientists found a phenomenon called QSL behavior of long distance quantum entanglement. According Young Lee, principal investigator of the research:

In the material, the magnetic orientations of electrons fluctuate as they interact with other electrons nearby. But there is a strong interaction between them, and because of quantum effects, not just fall into place. These strong interactions apparently allow what we call long distance quantum entanglement.

The existence of QSL has been theorized since 1987, but until now no one had managed to find such material. The herbertsmithite discovery is a major breakthrough for the future. Scientists explain that fields such as data storage (with new forms of magnetic storage) or new communications (via long distance quantum entanglement) may be extended. Not only that, QSL might even lead us to high-temperature superconductors.

In any case, this is so new to scientists even they manage to theorize about its effect on the future:

We have yet to get a fuller understanding of the big picture. There is a theory that describes everything you’re seeing.

Tags: , ,