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Concept# Quantum spin liquid

Summary

In condensed matter physics, a quantum spin liquid is a phase of matter that can be formed by interacting quantum spins in certain magnetic materials. Quantum spin liquids (QSL) are generally characterized by their long-range quantum entanglement, fractionalized excitations, and absence of ordinary magnetic order.
The quantum spin liquid state was first proposed by physicist Phil Anderson in 1973 as the ground state for a system of spins on a triangular lattice that interact antiferromagnetically with their nearest neighbors, i.e. neighboring spins seek to be aligned in opposite directions. Quantum spin liquids generated further interest when in 1987 Anderson proposed a theory that described high temperature superconductivity in terms of a disordered spin-liquid state.
The simplest kind of magnetic phase is a paramagnet, where each individual spin behaves independently of the rest, just like atoms in an ideal gas. This highly disordered phase is the generic state of magnets at high temperatures, where thermal fluctuations dominate. Upon cooling, the spins will often enter a ferromagnet (or antiferromagnet) phase. In this phase, interactions between the spins cause them to align into large-scale patterns, such as domains, stripes, or checkerboards. These long-range patterns are referred to as "magnetic order," and are analogous to the regular crystal structure formed by many solids.
Quantum spin liquids offer a dramatic alternative to this typical behavior. One intuitive description of this state is as a "liquid" of disordered spins, in comparison to a ferromagnetic spin state, much in the way liquid water is in a disordered state compared to crystalline ice. However, unlike other disordered states, a quantum spin liquid state preserves its disorder to very low temperatures. A more modern characterization of quantum spin liquids involves their topological order, long-range quantum entanglement properties, and anyon excitations.
Several physical models have a disordered ground state that can be described as a quantum spin liquid.

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