A new candidate material for quantum spin liquids

A new candidate material for quantum spin liquids
Credit: Péter Szirmai

In 1973, physicist and later Nobel laureate Philip W. Anderson proposed a bizarre state of matter: the quantum spin liquid (QSL). Unlike the everyday liquids we know, the QSL actually has to do with magnetism—and magnetism has to do with spin.

Disordered electron spin produces QSLs

What makes a magnet? It was a long-lasting mystery, but today we finally know that magnetism arises from a peculiar property of sub-atomic particles, like electrons. That property is called “spin,” and the best—yet grossly insufficient—way to think of it is like a child’s spinning-top toy.

What is important for magnetism is that spin turns every one of a material’s billions of electrons into a tiny magnet with its own magnetic “direction” (think north and south pole of a magnet). But the electron spins aren’t isolated; they interact with each other in different ways until they stabilize to form various magnetic

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