Scientists document the presence of never-before-seen quantum spin liquids; could hold key to more robust qubits
(Phys.org) Quantum spin liquid has nothing to do with everyday liquids like water, contrary to the name Instead, it’s all about magnets that never freeze and the way electrons in them spin. In regular magnets, when the temperature drops below a certain temperature, the electrons stabilize and form a solid piece of matter with magnetic properties. In quantum spin liquid, the electrons don’t stabilize when cooled, don’t form into a solid, and are constantly changing and fluctuating (like a liquid) in one of the most entangled quantum states ever conceived.
The different properties of quantum spin liquids have promising applications that can be used to advance quantum technologies such as high-temperature superconductors and quantum computers. But the problem about this state of matter has been its very existence. No one had ever seen it—at least, that had been the case for almost 50 years.
Now, a team of Harvard-led physicists said they have finally experimentally documented this long sought-after exotic state of matter. The work is described in a new study in the journal Science and marks a big step toward being able to produce this elusive state on demand and to gain a novel understanding of its mysterious nature.
“It is a very special moment in the field ,” said Mikhail Lukin, the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics, co-director of the Harvard Quantum Initiative (HQI), and one of the senior authors of the study.
The learnings from this science research could one day provide advancements for designing better quantum materials and technology. More specifically, the exotic properties from quantum spin liquids could hold the key to creating more robust quantum bits—known as topological qubits—that are expected to be resistant to noise and external interference.