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There's no known way to prove a three-dimensional "quantum spin liquid" exists, so Rice University physicists and their collaborators did the next best thing: They showed their single crystals of cerium zirconium pyrochlore had the right stuff to qualify as the first possible 3-D version of the long-sought state of matter.

Despite the name, a is a in which the weird property of mechanics—entanglement—ensures a liquidlike magnetic state.

In a paper this week in Nature Physics, researchers offered a host of experimental evidence—including crucial neutron-scattering experiments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and muon spin relaxation experiments at Switzerland's Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI)—to support their case that cerium zirconium pyrochlore, in its single-crystal form, is the first material that qualifies as a 3-D quantum spin liquid.

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