Using low-frequency laser pulses, a team of researchers from MIT, Boston College, and Harvard University has carried out the first measurements that reveal the detailed characteristics of a unique kind of magnetism found in a mineral called herbertsmithite. The new analysis is reported in a paper in Physical Review Letters, co-authored by Nuh Gedik, the Biedenharn Career Development Associate Professor of Physics at MIT, graduate student Daniel Pilon, postdoc Chun Hung Lui, and four others.
In this material, the magnetic elements constantly fluctuate, leading to an exotic state of fluid magnetism called a “quantum spin liquid.” This is in contrast to conventional magnetism, found in materials called ferromagnets — where all of the magnetic forces align in the same direction, reinforcing each other — or antiferromagnets, where adjacent magnetic elements align in opposite directions, leading to complete cancellation of the material’s overall magnetic field. Read the rest of the article here. Photo by Rob Lavinsky