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Sometimes the best discoveries happen when scientists least expect it. While trying to replicate another team's finding, Stanford physicists recently stumbled upon a novel form of magnetism, predicted but never seen before, that is generated when two honeycomb-shaped lattices of carbon are carefully stacked and rotated to a special angle.

The authors suggest the magnetism, called orbital ferromagnetism, could prove useful for certain applications, such as quantum computing. The group describes their finding in the July 25 issue of the journal Science.

"We were not aiming for magnetism. We found what may be the most exciting thing in my career to date through partially targeted and partially accidental exploration," said study leader David Goldhaber-Gordon, a professor of physics at Stanford's School of Humanities and Sciences. "Our discovery shows that the most interesting things turn out to be surprises sometimes."

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Category: Science