Physics at Virginia

Klich and Lee Solve Longstanding Condensed Matter Physics Problem

Tuesday, April 15 2014

Our theorist, Israel Klich, and experimentalist, Seung-Hun lee, have worked together to solve a long-standing problem in condensed matter physics regarding a glassy state in some frustrated magnets. When spins are arranged in a lattice of triangular motif, the phenomenon of frustration leads to numerous energetically equivalent ground states, and results in exotic states such as spin liquid and spin ice. In their paper recently published in Nature Communications, they report an alternative situation that they call a spin jam that is induced purely by quantum fluctuations. The frustrated magnet that they studied is a triangular network of bipyramids. They found that although classically the ground state is spin liquid, quantum corrections break the classical degeneracy into a set of aperiodic spin configurations forming local minima in a rugged energy landscape. A consequence of the complex energy landscape is, upon cooling, the system gets trapped in one of the local minima, leading to the glassy spin jam state. Their results clearly show that a glassy spin state can be achieved in the absence of disorder.

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Tags: Israel Klich Seunghun Lee Condensed Matter Physics Mathematical Physics