Localization-delocalization transition in the dynamics of dipolar-coupled nuclear spins

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Science  21 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6250, pp. 846-848
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261160

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The dynamics of dipolar interactions

Well-controlled systems, such as cold atomic gases, can simulate more complicated materials. Applying this quantum simulation concept to the study of magnetism, Alvarez et al. add an interesting twist. Instead of cold atoms, a network of nuclear spins of hydrogen in polycrystalline adamantane serves as a simulator. Using nuclear magnetic resonance techniques, the authors could induce a transition from a state in which all spins coupled to each other to a state in which coherent spins grouped into clusters.

Science, this issue p. 846


Nonequilibrium dynamics of many-body systems are important in many scientific fields. Here, we report the experimental observation of a phase transition of the quantum coherent dynamics of a three-dimensional many-spin system with dipolar interactions. Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) on a solid-state system of spins at room-temperature, we quench the interaction Hamiltonian to drive the evolution of the system. Depending on the quench strength, we then observe either localized or extended dynamics of the system coherence. We extract the critical exponents for the localized cluster size of correlated spins and diffusion coefficient around the phase transition separating the localized from the delocalized dynamical regime. These results show that NMR techniques are well suited to studying the nonequilibrium dynamics of complex many-body systems.

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