Quantum melting

When ice is warmed, the water molecules forming its structure vibrate more and more vigorously until finally the forces between them are no longer strong enough to hold them together – the ice melts and turns into liquid water. Quantum physics predicts that similar phenomena can be observed if the quantum mechanical fluctuations of the particles in a material can be altered. Such changes of state triggered by purely quantum effects – known as quantum phase transitions – play a role in many astonishing phenomena in solid-state systems, including high-temperature superconductivity. Researchers from Switzerland, Britain, France and China have now specifically altered the magnetic structure of the material TlCuCl3 by exposing it to a varying external pressure at different temperatures. By performing neutron-scattering measurements, they could observe what happens during a quantum phase transition, and compare the “quantum melting” of the magnetic structure with the classical “thermal melting” phase transition.

from Phys.org: Physics News http://ift.tt/1ijKzIW

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