Iron chips are torn around the ring magnet and its magnetic field.
Credit: Lawrence Lawry / Getty Images
Scientists have discovered a brand new magnet that is hiding in the uranium compound.
The compound, USb2 (a compound of uranium and antimony), the so-called "single-magnet magnet", is novel in that it creates magnetism in a completely different way than any other known known scientist.
Electrons that are negatively charged particles create their own small magnetic fields. These fields have a "northern" and a "southern" pole, which is a consequence of quantum mechanical properties known as spin. In most objects, these magnetic fields show in random directions and mutually eliminate each other. (This is why your body is not a huge magnet.) But in some materials, these fields are consistent. When this happens, they create a magnetic field that is strong enough to, for example, move many iron inserts or cause a compass to be directed north.
Almost every known magnet in space works in this way, from those on your refrigerator and M.R.I. machines for the magnetism of the planet itself. [7 Strange Facts About Quarks]
But the newly discovered magnet, which is based on the singlet, works completely differently.
USb2 is like many other substances in that electrons do not tend to direct magnetic fields in the same direction, so they can not create magnetism through their combined magnetic field.
However, electrons in USb2 can work together to form quantum-mechanical objects called "spin excitons".
Spin excitons are not similar to normal particles that you learned in physics and chemistry: electrons, protons, neutrons, photons, etc. when groups of physical particles begin to work together in strange ways.
Spin excitons arise from interactions between groups of electrons and when they form, a magnetic field is created.
According to a statement by researchers responsible for the discovery of USb2, physicists have long suspected that spin exciton groups can be combined with magnetic fields that are oriented in the same way. They called magnetism on the basis of singlet. The phenomenon was previously proven in short, brittle pulses in ultra-cold experimental environments, where strange physics of quantum mechanics is often more pronounced.
Physicists in this field have shown for the first time that this kind of magnet can exist in a stable way outside of superhuman environments.
In compound USb2, magnetic fields are formed in a moment and disappear almost as fast, researchers reported in an article published on February 7 in Nature Communications.
In normal circumstances, the magnetic moments in the rod are aligned gradually, without sharp crossings between magnetized and non-magnetized states. In a magnet based on a singlet, the jump between the state is sharper. Spin-excitons, usually temporary objects, become stable when they merge. And when these clusters appear, they start a cascade. Like the domains that belong to their place, spin exitons fill the whole substance very quickly and suddenly and they align themselves with each other.
This seems to be happening in USb2.
The advantage of this type of magnet, according to researchers, is that it is easier to move between magnetized and non-magnetized states than normal magnets. Since many computers are relying on switching the magnet back and forth to store information, it is possible that day-to-day devices that are based on singles work much more efficiently than conventional magnetic devices.
Originally published on Live Science.