(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers have found a quantum phase transition critical point in magnetic materials similar to that of water and other substances.
Physicists have discovered an analogue of the critical point in quantum material. This will help develop new magnets with unique properties.
Any substance under certain conditions can exist in three states of aggregation – liquid, solid and gaseous. The transition between them is called phase transition. In our kitchens, water boils at 100 ° C. Its density and other physical characteristics change greatly as a result of this process. However, if we increase the pressure, the boiling point of the water will also rise.
This occurs up to a pressure of 221 atmospheres, at which the liquid boils at 374 ° C. Something strange happens here: liquid and gas merge into one phase. Above this “critical point” there is no phase transition at all, and therefore, by controlling the pressure, water can be converted from a liquid to a gas without an explicit transition between states. Now physicists have discovered a quantum version of such a process.
Scientists have investigated the quantum antiferromagnet SrCu2 (BO3) 2 (SCBO). Such materials make it possible to understand how the quantum aspects of a material’s structure affect its physical properties – for example, the interaction of the spins of its electrons, which determine its magnetic properties. SCBO is a “detuned” magnet. This means that its electron spins cannot stabilize in some ordered structure, and instead they go into unique quantum fluctuating states.
The authors of the work studied the properties of the material by controlling the pressure and strength of the magnetic field acting on it. It turned out that under certain conditions SCBO has a specific heat characteristic of a phase transition. Scientists were able to explain this phenomenon using a computer model. Now the authors plan to use the research results to design new quantum materials with properties important for practical application.
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