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Subtle Spin: A Novel Study of Quantum Material Proves Theoretical Predictions

October 7, 2021

The Science

Researchers have discovered a hard-to-observe type of spin in a quantum mechanical system. In physics, a quantum mechanical system is a set of components that interact at the quantum scale. This is the realm of atoms and subatomic particles such as those defined in the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Spins are magnetic particles in a quantum system. The researchers successfully simulated and measured how spins can exhibit a type of motion known as Kardar-Parisi-Zhang (KPZ) in solid materials at various temperatures. Their findings demonstrate that KPZ motion accurately describes the changes in time of spin chains—linear channels of spins that interact with one another—in certain quantum materials.

The Impact

This marks the first time scientists have found evidence of KPZ dynamics in quantum materials. Scientists have previously found KPZ dynamics only in soft matter and other classical materials, where conventional forces predominate over quantum mechanics. The novel analyses allowed the team to obtain new insights into the properties of fluids and other underlying features of quantum systems. This knowledge could eventually be harnessed for real-world applications. For example, it could help improve heat transport capabilities using spin chains. It could also facilitate future efforts in the field of spintronics, which saves energy and reduces noise that can disrupt quantum processes by manipulating a material’s spin instead of its charge.


Related Publication: Scheie, A. et. al. (2021). Detection of Kardar-Parisi-Zhang Hydrodynamics in a Quantum Heisenberg Spin-1/2 Chain. Nature Physics, 17, 726-730.