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An international team of scientists uncovered exotic quantum properties hidden in magnetite, the oldest magnetic material known to mankind. The study reveals the existence of low-energy waves that indicate the important role of electronic interactions with the crystal lattice. This is another step toward fully understanding the metal-insulator phase transition mechanism in magnetite, and in particular, to learn about the dynamical properties and critical behavior of this material in the vicinity of the transition temperature.

Magnetite (Fe3O4) is a common mineral with strong magnetic properties that were documented in ancient Greece. Initially, it was used mainly in compasses, and later in many other devices, such as data recording tools. It is also widely applied to catalytic processes. Even animals benefit from the properties of magnetite in detecting magnetic fields—for example, magnetite in the beaks of birds may aid them in navigation.

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Category: Science