NUM division - Featured Research

Popular summaries of some of our recent works.


28 October 2018

Charges enter the ice age

Scattering experiments establish the partly disordered material CsNiCrF6 as the first verified example of a charge ice — and show that it supports Coulomb phases with correlations in three different degrees of freedom.

26 October 2018

Making the impossible possible

Use of multiferroic materials promises computers that are more energy efficient, as in these compounds an electric field would suffice to achieve magnetic data storage. Researchers at PSI have now made such a material suitable for operation beyond room temperature.

17 September 2018

Finite-temperature critical points and quantum critical end point in a 2D magnet

The Mermin–Wagner theorem has long told us that in two dimensions a continuous symmetry can be broken, allowing a finite order parameter, only at zero temperature. This rule has now been circumvented.

14 September 2018

Quantum magnets under pressure

The demonstration that applied pressure can substantially change – rather than merely tweak – the properties of a metal–organic quantum magnet indicates a route to designing quantum materials with tailored properties.

31 August 2018

Multiferroics turned upside down

Experiments demonstrating the inversion of entire domain patterns in multiferroic crystals highlight just how versatile this class of materials is, and indicate a route to exploring novel functionalities.

28 May 2018

Imaging the inside of injection needles with neutrons

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Using neutron imaging, researchers from PSI, the University of Basel and the company F. Hoffmann-La Roche have found out why proper storage is crucial for syringes pre-filled with a liquid medication.

11 May 2018

A theory for the gapless field-induced quantum spin-liquid phase of α−RuCl3

The material α−RuCl3 continues to garner attention as the current poster child for realising the Kitaev model. New work places recent experimental observations on a solid theoretical footing, and concludes that the physics of α−RuCl3 is not dominated by Kitaev interactions.

3 May 2018

Spin ice goes quantum

Numerous intriguing behaviours have been observed already in magnetic materials known as spin ices. But now for the first time direct manifestations of quantum mechanical effects have been seen in such a system.

17 December 2017

The field-induced quantum spin-liquid phase of α−RuCl3 is gapless

Throughout 2017, the material α−RuCl3 has continued to inspire and fascinate those interested in correlated condensed matter. New experimental data now provide unique insight, and pose fresh challenges.

14 November 2017

A null result full of insights

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A laboratory-based search for axion dark matter ended, not unexpectedly, without a discovery. It provides, however, valuable constraints for the properties that these hypothetical particles can have — and thus a guide to where to look next.

23 October 2017

Magnetic structures take a new turn

The unexpected finding that in an ‘artificial spin ice’ magnetostatic energy can be transformed into directed rotation of magnetization provides fresh insights into such nano-patterned magnetic structures — and might enable novel applications in nanoscale devices.

21 October 2017

The importance of knowing your stripes

A collaboration between three NUM laboratories has found that magnetic ‘stripe order’ in high-temperature superconductors not only co-exists with superconducting order, but might very well be intimately connected with it.

12 October 2017

Frustratingly disordered

A study of how disorder affects a ‘frustrated’ magnet reveals a surprising robustness of the underlying quantum many-body state, and provides evidence for emerging quantum phenomena induced by disorder.

10 October 2017

From golden emperor to filled Buddha

With PSI's neutron beams, metal objects can be rendered transparent. This helps archaeologists not only to see what is hidden in the hollow spaces of the artefacts — with support from PSI scientists, they can also gain insights into how such ancient artefacts were made and how they can be preserved for posterity.

20 July 2017

Diving into magnets

A team led by Laura Heyderman has made visible, for the first time, the 3D directions of the magnetisation inside a magnetic object. The smallest details in their visualisation were on the scale of 100 nanometers. Among others, the magnetic structure contained one outstanding kind of pattern: magnetic singularities called Bloch points, which up to now were only known in theory.

17 July 2017

New quantum state observed in a Shastry–Sutherland compound

Scientists from PSI and the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have shown experimentally, for the first time, a quantum phase transition in strontium copper borate, the only material to date that realizes the famous Shastry–Sutherland quantum many-body model.

19 May 2017

Distinct, but not so different

Among superconducting materials, CeCoIn5 stands out as a rare case where superconductivity gives rise to magnetic order. An international team led by PSI physicist Michel Kenzelmann now reports that when small amounts of impurities are implanted into CeCoIn5, then two distinct magnetic phases appear — and these are surprisingly similar to one another.

28 April 2017

Climbing the ladder

Quantum phenomena can lead to intriguing effects in materials, but are famously difficult to predict and understand. A combined experimental and theoretical study of a model quantum system provides insight into excitations that involve multiple particles at once.