Unusual quantum state of matter observed for the first time in cerium-zirconium-oxygen substance

Not every day a new state of matter is discovered in quantum physics, the branch of science that studies the behavior of atomic and subatomic particles to better understand their properties. However, that is exactly what an international research team has done. The team has discovered a new quantum state of matter for the first time. The team discovered a “quantum spin liquid ground state” in a magnetic substance called Ce2Zr2O7, which is composed of cerium, zirconium and oxygen. Spin is an important feature in quantum physics that affects electron order.

The spin causes a disorganized structure comparable to that of molecules in some materials, hence the term “spin liquid”. Since the direction of spinning continues to vary as the material cools, the spinning fluids remain disorganized. This is similarly stabilizing in a solid as in a conventional magnet where all spins are aligned.

The research was conducted by Andrea Bianchi, a physics professor at the University of Montreal, and his students Avner Fitterman and Jeremi Dudemaine. The researchers documented their study in the journal Physical Review X.

As the temperature of the material increases, it becomes more disorganized. Spinning liquids, on the other hand, have the property of remaining disorganized even when cooled to absolute zero (−273 °C / −459.67 °F).

In contrast to conventional magnets, electrons in quantum spin liquids are arranged in a triangular lattice and form a “menage a trois”, with strong turbulence disrupting their order. Because of the entangled wave function, there is no magnetic order. In contrast, in conventional magnets, all electron spins are oriented in the same direction, forming a ferromagnetic phase.

Bianchi explained that when a third electron is introduced, the electron spins cannot align because the two surrounding electrons must always have opposite spins, leading to magnetic frustration. Even at very low temperatures, this generates excitations that preserve the spin disorder and thus the liquid state.

Regarding Ce2Zr2O7, Bianchi said that although this compound was known to exist, her breakthrough was in creating it in a uniquely pure form. The researchers used samples that were melted in an optical furnace to create a near-perfect triangular array of atoms, then checked the quantum state.

Bianchi added that their results showed an overlapping particle function – hence no Bragg peaks – which clearly indicates the lack of classical magnetic order. They also noticed a spin distribution with constantly changing directions typical of spin liquids and magnetic frustration. This shows that the material produced behaves like a real dope at low temperatures.

Scientists confirmed they were experiencing a never-before-seen quantum state after verifying their observations with computer simulations.

https://gadgets360.com/science/news/quantum-state-of-matter-first-time-unusual-made-of-cerium-zirconium-oxygen-magnetic-substance-spin-liquid-3003965 Unusual quantum state of matter observed for the first time in cerium-zirconium-oxygen substance

Ryan Sederquist

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