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Crystals containing ruthenium atoms often exhibit distinctive properties that arise from ruthenium’s excited electronic states. In these states, the electrons are located far from the nucleus, which allows them to interact with their own spins and with neighboring electrons in unexpected ways. Now, Je-Geun Park at Seoul National University, South Korea, and colleagues have studied the ruthenium-based crystal Na2.7Ru4O9 and found that its electrons arrange themselves in an unusual pattern, which affects the material’s bulk properties, such as resistivity.

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