Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hidden order found in quantum spin liquid

27.07.2007
An international team, including scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology, has detected a hidden magnetic “quantum order” that extends over chains of 100 atoms in a ceramic without classical magnetism. The findings, which are published today (July 26) by Science, have implications for the design of devices and materials for quantum information processing.

In quantum information processing, data is recorded and manipulated as quantum bits or ‘qubits’, generalizations of the classical ‘0’ and ‘1’ bits which are traditionally represented by the ‘on’ and ‘off’ states of conventional switches. It is widely believed that if large-scale quantum computers can be built, they will be able to solve certain problems, such as code breaking, exponentially faster than classical computers.

Theoretically, the spin of an individual electron is an excellent qubit, but in a real material it interacts with other electrons and its useable quantum properties are rapidly lost. The new research is important because it explicitly demonstrates, using a practical material, that a large number of electron spins can be coupled together to yield a quantum mechanical state with no classical analog. In addition, the team has also established the factors that affect the distance over which the hidden ‘quantum order’ can be maintained.

“We had two objectives,” explains Professor Gabriel Aeppli, Director of the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the paper’s senior author. “The first was to show that we could actually image the quantum order, which is sometimes referred to as phase coherence. The second aim was to manipulate the distance over which it can be maintained.” This distance - and how sensitive it is to changes in temperature or chemical impurities in the material - can be essential in determining whether a material will have real-life applications, where it would be crucial to control and maintain quantum order over predetermined extents in space and time.

The team studied a ceramic material consisting of chains of nickel-centered oxygen octahedra laid end-to-end. The chains are not ordinary magnets such as those used to fix reminders onto refrigerator doors, but an exotic quantum spin liquid in which the electron spins (analogous to tiny bar magnets) point in random directions with no particular order, even at very low temperatures.

To measure the quantum order throughout this classically disordered liquid, the scientists used neutrons to image the magnetic excitations - “flips” or fluctuations of the spins - and the distances over which they could propagate. The experiments were performed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Neutron Research in the US and at the ISIS particle accelerator of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK.

The scientists found that despite the apparent classical disorder, magnetic excitations could propagate over long chains of atoms at low temperature - in the otherwise magnetically disordered material.

Other examples of large-scale quantum phase coherence include superconductors and superfluids where quantum physics leads to fascinating properties.

The team also discovered that they could limit the coherence or make it disappear altogether by introducing defects into the material either by adding chemical impurities (doping) or heating. These defects break the chains into independent sub-chains, each with its own, hidden order. This part of the reported research is the first step towards engineered spin-based quantum states in ceramics.

Aeppli and other members of the team note that their work was initially not intended to have direct applications, but that they later realized that what they are learning could be applied in a range of fields from nanotechnology to quantum computing.

Collaborators on this research include: Guangyong Xu, of John Hopkins University and Brookhaven National Laboratory; Collin L. Broholm, Ying Chen, and Michel Kenzelmann of Johns Hopkins University and the NIST Center for Neutron Research; Yeong-Ah Soh of Dartmouth College; Gabriel Aeppli of the London Centre for Nanotechnology and University College London; John. F. DiTusa of Louisiana State University; Christopher D. Frost from the ISIS Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, U.K.; Toshimitsu Ito and Kunihiko Oka of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan; and Hidenori Takagi from AIST and University of Tokyo.

The work was funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, a Wolfson-Royal Society Research Merit Award (UK), and by the Basic Technologies programme of the UK Research Councils.

David Weston | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientific achievements during the operation of Lomonosov satellite
18.12.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

nachricht Quantum memory with record-breaking capacity based on laser-cooled atoms
18.12.2017 | Faculty of Physics University of Warsaw

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Single-photon detector can count to 4

18.12.2017 | Information Technology

Quantum memory with record-breaking capacity based on laser-cooled atoms

18.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How much soil goes down the drain -- New data on soil lost due to water

18.12.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>