IoP Oxford presents Dr Felix Flicker: Magnetic Monopoles in Spin Ice

4 Feb 2020 - 6:45pm to 8:00pm
Martin Wood Complex, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU
Martin Wood Lecture Theatre
General public (Age 14+)

The IOP and Oxford University are pleased to present Dr Felix Flicker. Felix is the Astor Junior Research Fellow of New College, Oxford. His work in theoretical physics concerns the application of geometry and topology to quantum materials.

Join us on an expedition to find the north pole! The last century saw teams of explorers from around the world brave the ices in attempts to reach the north and south poles. These days we are again working to discover the poles -- but this time, the task is to isolate the individual poles of a magnet.

Cutting a magnet in half simply results in two smaller magnets, each with a north and south pole. There are deep reasons to expect the existence of `magnetic monopoles' (a north pole without a south, or vice versa). While there exist electrically-charged fundamental particles -- electric monopoles, such as the electron -- searches for magnetically-charged fundamental particles, magnetic monopoles, have so far proven fruitless.

Magnetic monopoles have, however, been predicted to appear as emergent properties of the `spin ices', crystals of certain materials cooled to around 1 degree Centigrade above absolute zero (please see attached image). Experimental confirmation of these ideas could lead to fundamental advances in electronics, such as magnetic currents (`magnetricity'), and the circumvention of impending physical limits on transistor sizes by employing the magnetic fields of electrons rather than their electrical charges.

Explorers once took to the ices in search of the Earth's poles. In this talk I will discuss recent attempts by teams around the world to find isolated magnetic poles in the spin ices. I will present recent work in which we found good evidence of their existence by listening to the noise of the crystals' magnetic fields using a highly sensitive magnetic field detector.

The talk starts at 19:00 with refreshements served shortly beforehand.

Registration essential: please register via Eventbrite:

Image credits:

Felix Flicker profile photograph by John Cairns
Spin Ice image by Prof. Stephen Blundell

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