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Durham Emergence Project


Emergent phenomena in magnetic systems showing quantum phase transitions


Fan Xiao

Project Description

Progress in the investigation of emergent ground states and novel excitations in condensed matter systems relies on the existence of materials that are well described by simple theoretical models. Of particular recent interest is the emergent physics that arises at so-called quantum phase transitions [1] which occur at T = 0(Figure 1). Arguably, the field where most progress has been made in identifying and characterizing emergent phenomena in real systems is quantum magnetism, which involves the study of systems whose behaviour is dominated by quantum fluctuations. Since the systems display behaviour never found in classical magnets, quantum magnetism has played an integral role in advancing our fundamental knowledge of emergent phenomena.

Figure 1: A phase diagram of both a classical phase transition and a quantum phase transition. The quantum phase transition is driven by quantum fluctuations and occurs at zero temperature only.

In this proposal, I describe a project to investigate the physics of low-dimensional quantummagnetism based on using coordination polymers as realizations of fundamental models. There are three parts to this proposal. The first two involve the study of low-dimensional molecular magnets with random contributions to their Hamiltonians based on known structures/chemical formulae. The third will involve synthesis and characterization of a new spin ladder system. This will allow me to discover and characterize the behaviour of these systems and it is likely that the novel behaviour that these systems are expected to produce will provide new candidates for emergent phenomena.