Physicists at JILA have created a crystal-like arrangement of ultracold gas molecules that can swap quantum "spin" properties with nearby and distant partners. The novel structure might be used to simulate or even invent new materials that derive exotic properties from quantum spin behavior, for electronics or other practical applications.
Described in a Nature paper posted online on Sept. 18, 2013, the JILA experiment is the first to record ultracold gas molecules exchanging spins at a distance, a behavior that may be similar to that of intriguing solids such as "frustrated" magnets with competing internal forces, or high-temperature superconductors, which transmit electricity without resistance. The new results build on the same JILA team's prior creation of the first molecular quantum gases and demonstrations of ultracold chemistry.
JILA is a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder.
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