A twist on the Ising model

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Science  14 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6543, pp. 699-700
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6543.699-g

The material CoNb2O6 contains loosely bound zigzag chains of magnetic cobalt ions and is considered to be a model system for the so-called one-dimensional transverse field Ising model (TFIM). In this iconic model of quantum criticality, a string of particles with spin ½ orders with all of the spins pointing in the same direction, this ferromagnetic state melts at a critical value of an external transverse magnetic field. Morris et al. re-examined the applicability of this model to CoNb2O6 using time–domain terahertz spectroscopy and found that some of their results could not be explained by TFIM. Instead, the data fit what the authors dubbed a twisted Kitaev chain model, in which the Ising direction alternates along the chain.

Nat. Phys. 10.1038/s41567-021-01208-0 (2021).

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