It's not often that researchers can verify a discovery that could change how we approach basic principles of technology, not just build on what we know. Nonetheless, MIT might have accomplished just such a feat in demonstrating a new state of magnetism. They've shown that a synthetically grown sample of herbertsmithite crystal (what you see above) behaves as a quantum spin liquid: a material where fractional quantum states produce a liquid-like flux in magnetic orientations, even if the material is solid. The behavior could let communications and storage take advantage of quantum entanglement, where particles can affect each other despite relatively long distances. MIT warns us that there's a wide gap between showing quantum spin liquids in action and developing a complete theory that makes them useful; we're not about to see Mass Effect's quantum entanglement communicator, if it's even possible. To us, realizing that there may be a wholly untapped resource is enough reward for now.
MIT demos new form of magnetism that could lead to quantum communication, storage
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