Rules of attraction: squeezing spins into tight spaces allows us to test and develop quantum theories of magnetism.

Illustration from J. L. Manson et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2009, 131 (19), pp 6733–6747.

Forcing magnetic moments to lie in chains, planes, triangles and other non-cubic arrangements strengthens some of the quantum mechanical interactions between the moments while hindering others. In this way, it is possible to produce magnetic phases and novel behaviour not seen in higher symmetry systems. By making measurements on low-dimensional magnetic materials, we experimentally explore the mechanisms responsible for these exotic properties, map out new magnetic states and evolve current models of quantum magnetism.

Zero-field spin excitations, both experimental data and model calculations, in a quasi–one-dimensional Ising ferromagnet. This particular system exhibited the first experimental realization of an E8 Lie group symmetry, the highest-order symmetry group discovered in mathematics. From Coldea et al. Science 327, 177 (2010).

Groups working in this field