Physicists have identified a new state of matter whose structural order operates by rules more aligned with quantum mechanics than standard thermodynamic theory. In a classical material called artificial spin ice, which in certain phases appears disordered, the material is actually ordered, but in a "topological" form.
"Our research shows for the first time that classical systems such as artificial spin ice can be designed to demonstrate topological ordered phases, which previously have been found only in quantum conditions," said Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist Cristiano Nisoli, leader of the theoretical group that collaborated with an experimental group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by Peter Schiffer (now at Yale University).
Physicists generally classify the phases of matter as ordered, such as crystal, and disordered, such as gases, and they do so on the basis of the symmetry of such order, Nisoli said.
"The demonstration that these topological effects can be designed into an artificial spin ice system opens the door to a wide range of possible new studies," Schiffer said.To read more, click here.