Research Highlight

Next-generation materials for quantum computing

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.126 Published online 23 August 2020

Electron spin is a property that gives electrons an angular momentum and a tiny magnetic field. Millions or billions of electron spins interact with one another, forming an ordered alignment. This imparts magnetic properties to solid matter.

When electron spins fail to form an ordered alignment, they collapse into a liquid-like state that is known as quantum spin liquid.

An international research team has now discovered the occurrence of such a liquid-like state in a three-dimensional material with a novel crystal structure.

This discovery has far-reaching applications, particularly in the realms of quantum computing, superconductivity and other transformative quantum technologies.

Scientists, including a researcher from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, in Chennai, India, probed the powder form of the material with a neutron beam. Neutron diffraction and scattering measurements showed the absence of long-range magnetic order in the material.  

Experiments, coupled with theoretical calculations, pointed to the presence of strong quantum fluctuations that destroy long-range magnetic order or any static magnetism in the ground state of the material.   

This is in stark contrast to the previously studied three-dimensional materials, in which the magnetic moments are static in the ground state.  

The findings of this research are of high importance because they reveal a distinctly different type of three-dimensional crystal structure capable of supporting spin liquid behaviour, the researchers say.


References

1. Chillal, S. et al. Evidence for a three-dimensional quantum spin liquid in PbCuTe2O6Nat. Comm. 11, 2348 (2020)