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Magnetic studies of ultrathin slabs of copper-oxide materials reveal that at very low temperatures, the thinnest, isolated layers lose their long-range magnetic order and instead behave like a “quantum spin liquid” — a state of matter where the orientations of electron spins fluctuate wildly. This unexpected discovery by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland may offer support for the idea that this novel condensed state of matter is a precursor to the emergence of high-temperature superconductivity — the ability to carry current with no resistance.

The hope is that this research, just published online in Physical Review Letters*, will lead to a deeper understanding of the physics of high-temperature superconductivity and advance the quest for new and better superconductors for meeting the nation’s and world’s energy needs.

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Category: Science