A team of experts from the Princeton University believe they found clues that could benefit the advanced electronics research. The answer lies in frustrated magnets.
Why this description? Because frustrated magnets don’t function as they should when placed in controlled environments with low temperatures.
Researchers believe that this new study could reveal additional information regarding the frictionless transmission of electricity and the mechanism behind the phenomenon. The aim of the experiment was to see whether these magnets would manifest a behavior known as the Hall Effect. The team explained that when one applies a magnetic field to an electric current circulating through a conductor like a copper ribbon, “the current deflects to one side of the ribbon”.
The first scientist to have observed this phenomenon was E.H. Hall in 1879. Deflection is used nowadays for “devices such as computer printers and automobile anti-lock braking systems“.
Frustrated magnets, which are neutral particles, do not manifest such effects, as Princeton’s physics professor N Phuan Ong explained. He added that:
“To talk about the Hall Effect for neutral particles is an oxymoron, a crazy idea.”
The team wanted to investigate the possibility of frustrated magnets manifesting the Hall Effect when placed under conditions of extremely low temperatures. This imposed environment enables the particles to function under the laws of quantum mechanics, instead of the classical physical laws.
The experiment required using a type of magnets known as pyrochlores. The researchers motivated their choice by saying that this class of magnets contains magnetic moments. They added:
“Magnetic moments, at very low temperatures near absolute zero, should line up in an orderly manner so that all of their “spins,” a quantum-mechanical property, point in the same direction. Instead, experiments have found that the spins point in random directions. These frustrated materials are also referred to as “quantum spin ice.””
Ong also said that these materials are interesting because scientists consider the spins’ tendency of alignment is still present but due to a phenomenon known as “geometric frustration”, the spins are “entangled but not ordered”.
Scientists believe that understanding this phenomenon could help find different strategies for computing and electronic devices as entanglement is believed to be an important piece in quantum systems and scientists hope they can one day exploit it and use it to develop more powerful quantum computers.
The article was published in the latest edition of Science.
Image Source: the Register
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