Physics

Studying magnetism in an atomic chain

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  11 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6266, pp. 1328-1329
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6266.1328-g

When we think of magnets, solid materials generally come to mind, but researchers can also study magnetism by placing individual atoms in an egg-crate–like potential created by lasers: an optical lattice. This approach, however, requires extraordinarily low temperatures. To circumvent that requirement, Murmann et al. studied a string of three or four fermionic 6Li atoms in an elongated optical trap. In this one-dimensional system, no lattice was needed because the atoms, tuned to interact strongly, spontaneously formed an ordered chain. The researchers first placed three atoms in a particular spin configuration and then tilted the trap to let the outermost atom tunnel out. The spin state of the tunneling atom revealed that the atoms were initially in an antiferromagnetic state.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 115, 215301 (2015).

Navigate This Article