Quasiparticle physics

Theoretical physicists are exploring the potential of trowels, stationary, immobile quasiparticles that could provide secure storage of information, based on a mathematical extension of quantum electrodynamics. While no materials currently exhibit these trowels, ongoing research aims to create more accurate models, incorporating quantum fluctuations, which could guide experimental physicists in designing and measuring materials with these properties, possibly leading to a significant quantum leap in future technology. .

Trowels, due to their impeccable stillness, are potential candidates for data storage. However, no actual material showing trowels has been identified so far. A group of researchers recently took a closer look at these quasiparticles, revealing surprising behavior.

Quasiparticles, like excitations in solids, can be represented mathematically; an example are phonons which are an excellent representation of lattice vibrations that amplify with increasing temperature.

Mathematically, quasiparticles that have yet to be observed in any material can also be expressed. These theoretical quasiparticles may possess unique properties, making them worthy of further examination. Take trowels, for example.

Perfect archiving of information

Trowels are fractional spin excitations and cannot possess kinetic energy. As a result, they are completely still and motionless. This makes trowels new candidates for perfectly secure information storage. Mainly because they can be moved under special conditions, namely by riding on the back of another quasiparticle.

Trowels Numerical Modeling

Numerical modeling results in a fractional signature with typical catch points (left) and should be experimentally observable with neutron scattering. Allowing quantum fluctuations blurs this signature (right), even at T=0 K. Credit: HZB

Trowels emerged from a mathematical extension of quantum electrodynamics, in which electric fields are treated not as vectors but as tensors completely detached from real materials, explains Prof. Dr. Johannes Reuther, a theoretical physicist at the Freie University of Berlin and at the HZB.

Simple models

In order to be able to observe trowels experimentally in the future, it is necessary to find model systems that are as simple as possible: therefore, octahedral crystal structures with angular atoms interacting antiferromagnetically were first modeled.

This revealed special patterns with characteristic catch points in spin correlations, which in principle can also be experimentally detected in a real material with neutron experiments.

In previous work, however, spins have been treated as classical vectors, without accounting for quantum fluctuations, Reuther says.

Including quantum fluctuations

This is why Reuther, together with Yasir Iqbal of the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, India, and his doctoral student Nils Niggemann, have now included quantum fluctuations for the first time in the computation of this state-of-the-art system. octahedral solid.

These are very complex numerical calculations, which in principle are capable of mapping trowels. The result surprised us, because in reality we see that the quantum fluctuations do not improve the visibility of the trowels, but on the contrary obscure them completely, even at[{” attribute=””>absolute zero temperature, says Niggemann.

In the next step, the three theoretical physicists want to develop a model in which quantum fluctuations can be regulated up or down. A kind of intermediate world between classical solid-state physics and the previous simulations, in which the extended quantum electrodynamic theory with its fractons can be studied in more detail.

From theory to experiment

No material is yet known to exhibit fractons. But if the next model gives more precise indications of what the crystal structure and magnetic interactions should be like, then experimental physicists could start designing and measuring such materials.

I do not see an application of these findings in the next few years, but perhaps in the coming decades and then it would be the famous quantum leap, with really new properties, says Reuther.

Reference: Quantum Effects on Unconventional Pinch Point Singularities by Nils Niggemann, Yasir Iqbal and Johannes Reuther, 12 May 2023, Physical Review Letters.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.130.196601

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