New order theorised for electronic polariser

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PHYSICS professors from Rutgers University and MIT have theorised that there exists a “hidden order” in a quantum electronic material, which may open the door to new kinds of materials, magnets and superconductors.

The researchers were looking into an exotic material which is a compound of uranium, ruthenium and silicon (URu2Si2). When this material is cooled to 17.5 degrees Kelvin, the flow of electrons changes subtly.

The material becomes an electronic polariser, aligning the magnetic fields of the electrons which flow through it with its main crystal axis.

According to said Piers Coleman, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences, this effect is due to the theorised new type of hidden order, or symmetry, in the material’s magnetic and electronic properties.

Changes in order are what make liquid crystals, magnetic materials and superconductors work and perform useful functions.

The researchers called the new order a “hastatic” order, after the Greek work for spear, due to its alignment properties.

This new category of order may open the world to new kinds of materials, magnets, superconductors and states of matter with properties yet unknown. Physicists are now beginning to test for hastatic order in other materials.