Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Rice's 'quantum critical' theory gets experimental boost: Study represents step toward unified theory for quantum phase transformation

Vienna University of Technology graduate students Hannes Winkler (left) and Andrey Sidorenko are co-authors of a new paper that sheds light on "correlated electron effects" in heavy fermion materials.
CREDIT: F. Aigner/TU Wien
Vienna University of Technology graduate students Hannes Winkler (left) and Andrey Sidorenko are co-authors of a new paper that sheds light on "correlated electron effects" in heavy fermion materials.

CREDIT: F. Aigner/TU Wien

Abstract:
New evidence this week supports a theory developed five years ago at Rice University to explain the electrical properties of several classes of materials -- including unconventional superconductors -- that have long vexed physicists.

Rice's 'quantum critical' theory gets experimental boost: Study represents step toward unified theory for quantum phase transformation

Houston, TX | Posted on January 10th, 2012

The findings in this week's issue of Nature Materials uphold a theory first offered in 2006 by physicist Qimiao Si, Rice's Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Physics and Astronomy. They represent an important step toward the ultimate goal of creating a unified theoretical description of the quantum behavior of high-temperature superconductors and related materials.

"We now have a materials-based global phase diagram for heavy-fermion systems -- a kind of road map that helps relate the predicted behavior of several different classes of materials," Si said. "This is an important step on the road to a unified theory."

High-temperature superconductivity is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of modern physics. In the mid-1980s, experimental physicists discovered several compounds that could conduct electricity with zero resistance. The effect happens only when the materials are very cold, but still far above the temperatures required for the conventional superconductors that were discovered and explained earlier in the 20th century.

In searching for a way to explain high-temperature superconductivity, physicists discovered that the phenomenon was one of a larger family of behaviors called "correlated electron effects."

In correlated electron processes, the electrons in a superconductor behave in lockstep, as if they were a single entity rather than a large collection of individuals. These processes bring about tipping points called "quantum critical points" at which materials change phases. These phase changes are similar to thermodynamic phase changes that occur when ice melts or water boils, except they are governed by quantum mechanics.

Materials at the border of magnetism and superconductivity -- including heavy-fermion metals and high-temperature superconductors -- are the prototype systems for quantum critical points.

In 2001, Si and colleagues proposed what has now become the dominant theory to explain correlated electron effects in heavy-fermion systems. Their "local quantum critical" theory concluded that both magnetism and charged electron excitations play a role in bringing about quantum critical points.

Experiments over the past decade have provided overwhelming evidence for the role of both effects. In addition, experiments have shown that quantum critical points fall into different classes for different types of materials, including several nonsuperconductors.

"In light of the experimental evidence, an important question arose as to whether a unifying principle might exist that could explain the behavior of all the classes of quantum critical points that had been observed in heavy-fermion materials," Si said.

In 2006, Si put forward a new theory aimed at doing just that. Experiments two years ago confirmed that the theoretical global phase diagram could explain the quantum critical behavior of YRS -- composites of ytterbium, rhodium and silicon that are among the most-studied quantum critical materials.

In the new Nature Materials paper, a group led by experimental physicist Silke Paschen of Vienna University of Technology in Vienna examined a new material made of cerium, palladium and silicon (CPS). Both YRS and CPS are heavy-fermion compounds; however, YRS is a composite of stacked two-dimensional layers, and CPS has a three-dimensional crystalline structure.

"In YRS, the collapse of charged electronic excitations occurs at the onset of magnetic order," Paschen said. "In CPS, we established a similar collapse of the electronic excitations but inside an ordered phase."

To explain the difference between the observations in CPS and YRS, Si and co-author Rong Yu, a Rice postdoctoral researcher, invoked the effect of dimensionality.

"In systems like YRS, reduced dimensionality enhances the quantum fluctuations between the electrons, and that enhancement influences their collective behavior," Yu said. "In the three-dimensional material, we found that the quantum fluctuations were reduced, and this affected the quantum critical point and the correlated behavior in a way that was predicted by theory."

Si said the linkage between the quantum critical points of CPS and YRS is important for the ultimate question of how to classify and unify quantum criticality.

"Our study not only highlights a rich variety of quantum critical points but also indicates an underlying universality," he said.

Si said it is important to test the theory's ability to correctly predict the behavior of even more materials, and his group is working with Paschen and other experimentalists via the International Collaborative Center on Quantum Matter to carry out those tests.

Co-authors on the Nature Materials paper include J. Custers, K.-A. Lorenser, M. Müller, A. Prokofiev, A. Sidorenkio and H. Winkler, all of Vienna University of Technology; A.M. Strydom of the University of Johannesburg in South Africa; and Y. Shimura and T. Sakakibara, both of the University of Tokyo. The research was supported by the European Research Council, the Austrian Science Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Welch Foundation.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its "unconventional wisdom." With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/Rice.pdf

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Jade Boyd
713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

The Nature Materials paper is available at:

Related News Press

News and information

Australian startup creates world’s first 100% cotton hydrophobic T-Shirts November 26th, 2014

The mysterious 'action at a distance' between liquid containers November 26th, 2014

'Giant' charge density disturbances discovered in nanomaterials: Juelich researchers amplify Friedel oscillations in thin metallic films November 26th, 2014

Lawrence Livermore researchers develop efficient method to produce nanoporous metals November 25th, 2014

Renishaw receives Queen's Award for spectroscopy developments November 25th, 2014

Physics

The mysterious 'action at a distance' between liquid containers November 26th, 2014

Superconductivity

Implementation of DNA Chains in Designing Nanospin Pieces November 9th, 2014

New evidence for an exotic, predicted superconducting state October 27th, 2014

Superconducting circuits, simplified: New circuit design could unlock the power of experimental superconducting computer chips October 18th, 2014

Elusive Quantum Transformations Found Near Absolute Zero: Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University researchers measured the quantum fluctuations behind a novel magnetic material's ultra-cold ferromagnetic phase transition September 15th, 2014

Discoveries

The mysterious 'action at a distance' between liquid containers November 26th, 2014

'Giant' charge density disturbances discovered in nanomaterials: Juelich researchers amplify Friedel oscillations in thin metallic films November 26th, 2014

Lawrence Livermore researchers develop efficient method to produce nanoporous metals November 25th, 2014

Vegetable oil ingredient key to destroying gastric disease bacteria: In mice, therapeutic nanoparticles dampen H. pylori bacteria and inflammation that lead to ulcers and gastric cancer November 25th, 2014

Announcements

Australian startup creates world’s first 100% cotton hydrophobic T-Shirts November 26th, 2014

The mysterious 'action at a distance' between liquid containers November 26th, 2014

'Giant' charge density disturbances discovered in nanomaterials: Juelich researchers amplify Friedel oscillations in thin metallic films November 26th, 2014

Research yields material made of single-atom layers that snap together like Legos November 25th, 2014

Quantum nanoscience

The mysterious 'action at a distance' between liquid containers November 26th, 2014

Cooling with the coldest matter in the world November 24th, 2014

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites November 20th, 2014

Pseudospin-driven spin relaxation mechanism in graphene November 11th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More












ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE