Physics at Virginia

Love triangles, quantum fluctuations and spin jam

Wednesday, September 2 2015

Lee's group presented experimental evidence for the existence of a topological spin state called spin jam. When magnetic moments are interacting with each other in a situation resembling that of complex love triangles, called frustration, a large set of states that are energetically equivalent emerge. This leads to exotic spin states such as spin liquid and spin ice. In their paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Lee's group (Yang, Samarakoon, Dissanayake, and Lee) along with Klich presented evidence for the existence of a topological glassy state, that they call a spin jam, induced by quantum fluctuations. The case in point is SrCr9pGa12-9pO19 (SCGO(p)), a highly frustrated magnet, in which the magnetic Cr ions form a quasi-two-dimensional triangular system of bi-pyramids. This system has been an archetype in search for exotic spin states. Understanding the nature of the state has been a great intellectual challenge. The UVA group's new experimental data and their theoretical spin jam model provide for the first time a coherent understanding of the phenomenon. Furthermore, the findings strongly support the possible existence of purely topological glassy states. 

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Tags: Seunghun Lee Israel Klich Condensed Matter Physics