Dec 12, 2016 12:11 PM EST
This Rare Crystal Can Give You A 'Spooky' Quantum Christmas [VIDEO]
Quantum physics is already weird in itself with all the unexplainable phenomena that scientists are still trying to figure out. If that wasn't enough, a new discovery has been added to the growing collection and this time, the discovery will 'spook' you in any quantum way possible.
Physicist and assistant professor at Georgia Tech's School of Physics Martin Mourigal has discovered a new exotic crystal that has an indication of what he calls 'spooky' action. This crystal is weird because of the two traits it possess - it has quantum spin liquid inside it, and it was the first synthesized crystal, ytterbium with the formula YbMgGaO4.
What makes it spooky? The science website, The Conversation, explained that quantum spin liquids have a very evasive characteristic because the arrangement of electron spins prevent them from creating an ordered alignment; thus, they collapse to a liquid state. They always fluctuate even in absolute zero temperatures, while other magnetic states of matter already freeze at this stage.
Quantum spin liquids are only found in nature and one of the only previously evidence of this was found in the copper-based emerald green stone Herbertsmithite, discovered by mineralogist Herbert Smith in a mine in Chile in 1972.
In order to understand their properties, scientists must recreate them synthetically, which have been very difficult until China created the first synthetic ytterbium crystal. The Chinese government has heavily invested in it hoping that it will create synthetic quantum materials using its novel properties. Mourigal said that they may have been successful already as he observed that there are hints of spin liquid inside it.
Mourigal said that if what they discovered was indeed quantum spin liquid, an exotic state of matter can be created out of it. The result is "one huge electron working collectively" instead of individual particles.
Mourigal and his co-researcher, graduate student Marcus Daum, published their research in the journal Nature Physics.
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