This unique kind of magnetism is found in a mineral called herbertsmithite. The magnetic elements in this material constantly fluctuate, which leads to an exotic state of fluid magnetism called a “quantum spin liquid.” This is different to conventional magnetism in ferromagnets, where all the magnetic forces align in the same direction, and antiferromagnetism, where the magnetic fields of the ions within a metal or alloy cancel each other out. Researchers used laser pulses lasting a trillionth of a second to observe the signature in the optical conductivity of the spin-liquid state in herbertsmithite. This exotic system is thought to be closely related to the origins of high-temperature superconductivity, and may be useful for the development of quantum computing.
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