Researcher employs HFIR to explore the mysterious world of quantum spin

May 8, 2017
Researcher employs HFIR to explore the mysterious world of quantum spin
Jie Ma, former ORNL postdoctoral researcher now with Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, is using HFIR’s HB-3A instrument to study the spin order in an oxide material to produce the first 3-D images of its spin configurations. This information will allow researchers to explore the material’s magnetic properties in greater detail, extending the quantum spin kingdom, and provide understanding that could be applied to future computing technologies and portable devices. Credit: ORNL/Genevieve Martin

Jie Ma, a professor from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, is using neutrons at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's High Flux Isotope Reactor to discover a three-dimensional image of the magnetic lattice of an oxide material (Ba2CoTeO6) containing quantum properties that could provide new insight into how electron "spins" can improve data processing and storage in computers.

For his experiment, Ma is using HFIR's Four-Circle Diffractometer, beam line HB-3A. He hopes to better understand , a unique property that causes to mimic magnetic characteristics, even if the particle does not carry a charge.

"Scientists have been searching for spin liquids in low dimensional systems, such as the magnetic 2-D honeycomb lattice ruthenium trichloride recently reported by ORNL and our work on a 2-D triangular lattice. But, not many of such systems are ideally 2-D, without interactions between the 2-D layers," Ma said. "We hope the new image revealed in this experiment will give us a more detailed explanation for why quantum spins behave the way they do."

Ma's research focuses on the magnetic interactions between the material's layers rather than the individual interactions on each layer because they often appear to perturb the quantum spins in each layer and are essential to understanding how to realize real quantum spin liquids.

In a previous experiment, Ma used powder samples to characterize the material's structure. Interestingly, when he studied the material in a single crystal sample at HB-3A, the instrument revealed a different lattice structure, leading him to question if the new results indicated a difference in the route to quantum spin states.

"The interesting thing is that the lattice structure is different between the powder and single-crystal samples," Ma said. "We think if the is a little bit different here, then the magnetic structure might also be different for the material.

"Because we are interested in the magnetic properties of a material with quantum spins, neutrons are the best technique to study the magnetic or the magnetic dynamics of this material," he added. "Furthermore, HFIR is the highest power research reactor in the world, and the neutron instruments here are really perfect for what we want to do."

Ultimately, an in-depth analysis of quantum spin is necessary if researchers want to apply a new understanding of such properties to advancements in quantum computers, Ma explained.

"If we understand the magnetic properties that are exerted onto materials like these and how they move in that space, then we can translate those properties into everyday technology."

Explore further: A new state of matter: Quantum spin liquids explained

Related Stories

A new state of matter: Quantum spin liquids explained

April 29, 2016

Magnetism is one of the oldest recognised material properties. Known since antiquity, records from the 3rd century BC describe how lodestone, a naturally occurring magnetised ore of iron, was used in primitive magnetic compasses. ...

Novel state of matter: Observation of a quantum spin liquid

July 26, 2016

A novel and rare state of matter known as a quantum spin liquid has been empirically demonstrated in a monocrystal of the compound calcium-chromium oxide by team at HZB. According to conventional understanding, a quantum ...

New state of matter detected in a two-dimensional material

April 4, 2016

An international team of researchers have found evidence of a mysterious new state of matter, first predicted 40 years ago, in a real material. This state, known as a quantum spin liquid, causes electrons - thought to be ...

Study finds magnetic material could host wily Weyl fermions

June 7, 2016

An elusive massless particle could exist in a magnetic crystal structure, revealed by neutron and X-ray research from a team of scientists led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University ...

Recommended for you

Two teams independently test Tomonaga–Luttinger theory

October 20, 2017

(Phys.org)—Two teams of researchers working independently of one another have found ways to test aspects of the Tomonaga–Luttinger theory that describes interacting quantum particles in 1-D ensembles in a Tomonaga–Luttinger ...

Using optical chaos to control the momentum of light

October 19, 2017

Integrated photonic circuits, which rely on light rather than electrons to move information, promise to revolutionize communications, sensing and data processing. But controlling and moving light poses serious challenges. ...

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

October 19, 2017

Brown University researchers have demonstrated a way to bring a powerful form of spectroscopy—a technique used to study a wide variety of materials—into the nano-world.

Black butterfly wings offer a model for better solar cells

October 19, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with California Institute of Technology and the Karlsruh Institute of Technology has improved the efficiency of thin film solar cells by mimicking the architecture of rose butterfly wings. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.