The Jožef Stefan Institute team makes a breakthrough in Spin liquid

STA, January 5, 2022 – A group of physicists from the Jožef Stefan Institute have confirmed the liquid spin state even at temperatures of absolute zero, as the Swiss physicist GH Wannier first predicted in 1950, but his wish for experimental confirmation has remained unfulfilled so far. The achievement was published in the journal Nature Materials.

Spin liquids are a special magnetic state of matter. They are the magnetic analogue of the liquid state of matter, in that the magnetic moments (spins) are disordered, but at the same time already strongly correlated.

Swiss physicist Gregory Hugh Wannier first predicted in 1950 that the spin liquid state can be present even at a temperature of absolute zero. This has now been confirmed by Slovenian scientists.

The project involved physicists from the Jožef Stefan Institute – Tina Arh, Matej Pregelj and Andrej Zorko, as well as colleagues from the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Mechanics and other research institutes in India, UK. United, France and the United States.

The key to their breakthrough was the study of a magnetically unexplored compound, using a wide range of complementary experimental techniques, the Jožef Stefan Institute said.

Andrej Zorko explained for STA that the team was studying the magnetic properties of a certain crystal, neodymium heptatantalate, and added that from a magnetic point of view it is possible to make analogies with the states of matter.

Magnetic moments (spins) at sufficiently low temperatures can usually organize themselves as solid-state building blocks of matter, while at high temperatures they each point in their own direction, as in the gaseous state of matter.

Spin liquids fall somewhere in between, they are the magnetic analogue of the liquid state of matter, Zorko said. “That the spins in a spin liquid don’t end up in the same direction, even at absolute zero, it’s like water never turns into crystal or solid matter when cooled.”

Beyond the scientific aspect, this discovery could be potentially important in light of modern quantum technologies, as spin liquids are considered to be one of the most promising platforms for storing information in quantum computing, a Zorko concluded.

You can find the paper here

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