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A Physicist and Scientist Document the Quantum Spin of Liquids

Philip W. Anderson, a Physicist, proposed the presence of a new state of matter in 1973, and it has since become a major focus of the field, particularly in the race towards quantum computers. A quantum spin liquid is a strange state of matter that, despite its name, has nothing to do with ordinary liquids like water. Instead, it’s all about non-freezing magnets and how electrons in them spin. When the temperature of a normal magnet falls below a specific point, the electrons solidify and form a solid chunk of matter with magnetic properties.

The electrons in a quantum spin liquid do not cool, do not solidify, and are constantly shifting and fluctuating (like a liquid) in one of the most entangled quantum states ever envisioned. Quantum spin liquids contain a variety of features that could be exploited to develop quantum technologies like high-temperature superconductors and quantum computers. The issue with this state of matter, however, has been its very existence. No one had ever seen it before—at least, not in the last 50 years.

A group of Harvard Physicist announced today that they have finally experimentally documented this long-sought exotic state of matter. The research is detailed in a new article published in the journal Science, and it represents a significant step toward being able to create this elusive condition on demand while also learning more about its mysterious nature.

The findings of this scientific study may one day aid in the development of superior quantum materials and technology. Quantum spin liquids, in particular, may hold the key to developing more robust quantum bits, known as topological qubits, that are believed to be immune to noise and external interference. The study team used the programmable quantum simulator developed by the lab in 2017 to examine this liquid-like state of matter.

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