Quantum spin liquids describe an exotic form of magnetism where no fixed magnetic order appears, but rather the elemental magnetic moments are dynamically fluctuating and entangled according to the rules of quantum mechanics. These systems are rare and poorly understood, but may be ideal for exploring massively quantum entangled materials.
Dr. Erik Henriksen and their team seek to create and probe quantum spin liquids in atomically thin materials, which by virtue of having no interior, can be readily manipulated with device fabrication techniques to alter or enhance the magnetic couplings underlying the spin liquid state. Due to the small size of typical samples, most experimental probes utilized in studying magnetism are not directly applicable, and so the team is developing new probes to measure correlations in the noise, the magnetic fields emanating from the spin liquid system, and heat flow through nanoscale devices carried by collective motion of the magnetic moments.
Exotic types of magnetism including the quantum spin liquids Dr. Henriksen’s team is studying may hold the key to developing quantum computers capable of breaking codes and searching faster than google. Moreover, they offer novel routes to explore that fundamental mystery of quantum mechanics, namely the quantum entanglement of once-separate particles that leaves the state and behavior of any particle contingent upon all the rest. Their work will directly probe the nature of quantum entanglement and seek to develop the foundational elements of quantum computers.
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Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative
Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Physics