BANGALORE, INDIA: MIT researchers demonstrated the existence of a new kind of magnetic behaviour, ‘quantum spin liquid, which could have applications in new computer memory storage.
“We’re showing that there is a third fundamental state for magnetism,” says MIT professor of physics Young Lee. The experimental work showing the existence of this new state, called a quantum spin liquid (QSL), is reported this week in the journal Nature, with Lee as the senior author and Tianheng Han, who earned his PhD in physics at MIT earlier this year, as lead author.
“The QSL is a solid crystal, but its magnetic state is described as liquid: Unlike the other two kinds of magnetism, the magnetic orientations of the individual particles within it fluctuate constantly, resembling the constant motion of molecules within a true liquid,” reads a report on MIT’s website.
Ferromagnetism, the simple magnetism of a bar magnet or compass needle, and antiferromagnetism, the magnetic fields of the ions within a metal or alloy cancel each other out are the known varieties of .magnetisms.
“In both cases, the materials become magnetic only when cooled below a certain critical temperature. The prediction and discovery of antiferromagnetism – the basis for the read heads in today’s computer hard disks – won Nobel Prizes in physics for Louis Neel in 1970 and for MIT professor emeritus Clifford Shull in 1994,” says the report on the website.