For decades, quantum spin liquids were seen as largely hypothetical, with real-world examples thought to exist only in unusual systems such as quasi-one-dimensional chain-like magnets and a handful of two-dimensional materials. Then, in 2019, researchers at Rice University in the US and McMaster University in Canada found experimental evidence that a pyrochlore magnet, Ce2Zr2O7, could be a long-sought-after example of a three-dimensional quantum spin liquid (3D QSL). This “experimental conjecture” has now received further support from physicists at Rice and Florida State University in the US. Working with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany, the researchers used a combination of theoretical techniques to conclude that Ce2Zr2O7 (CZO for short) is indeed a 3D QSL.
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