Physicists just gifted us ‘quantum spin liquid,’ a weird new state of matter


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Physicists just gifted us ‘quantum spin liquid,’ a weird new state of matter

Droplets of silicon, used to illustrate movements similar to those of quantum particles. Aleks Labuda

Harvard researchers observe a state of matter predicted and hunted for 50 years but never previously observed . In 1973, physicist Philip W. Anderson theorized the existence of a new state of matter that has been a major focus of the field, especially in the race for quantum computers. This bizarre state of matter is called a quantum spin liquid.

A solid is made of atoms that are, more or less, locked in an ordered structure. A liquid, on the other hand, is made of atoms that can flow freely around and past each other. But imagine atoms that stay unfrozen, like those in a liquid–but which are in a constantly changing magnetic mess.

What you have then is a never-before-seen state of matter, a state of quantum weirdness called a quantum spin liquid. Now, by carefully manipulating atoms, researchers have managed to create this state in the laboratory. The researchers published their work in the journal Science on December 2.

 


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