November 27, 2022


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When heated, neodymium literally froze.  The effect should be the opposite

When heated, neodymium literally froze. The effect should be the opposite

Physicists are amazed. The heated neodymium material was frozen, rather than firing random patterns of spinning cycles, literally.

Scientists from Radboud University He noticed a strange kind of behavior in a magnetic material made of neodymium. As the temperature rises, the magnetic cycles “freeze”, contrary to the known laws of physics. Details are described in Nature Physics.

Unusual spin glasses

A strange phenomenon has been discovered in neodymium known as “self-rotating glass”. It is an alloy in which atoms of a metal (such as iron) are randomly mixed in a lattice of copper atoms. Each iron atom behaves like a small magnet (it has a spin) – randomly oriented in all possible directions.

Unlike traditional spin glasses, where magnetic materials are mixed randomly, neodymium is an element that behaves like glass in its crystalline form. Something unusual was observed in spinning neodymium glass.

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When the material was heated to -268AroundC to -265AroundC, its cycles rotate in a fixed pattern, creating something like a magnet. When the neodymium cooled, random patterns of spinning returned. We do not usually observe such “freezing” in ferromagnetic materials.

Temperature increases the energy in a solid, liquid, or gaseous substance. The same goes for magnets: as the temperature rises, the cycles begin to vibrate. The magnetic behavior we observed in neodymium is actually the opposite of what happens “naturally”. This is quite counter-intuitive, like water that becomes an ice cube when heated.the professor. Alexander Khajturians

These types of phenomena are often not found in nature. Few substances are known to behave inappropriately. The first is Rochelle salt, in which charges accumulate and form an ordered pattern at a higher temperature, being randomly distributed at a lower temperature.

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It is noteworthy that the intricate description of rotating glasses won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021. Knowing how these glasses work is also relevant to other fields of science.

The strange behavior is related to the concept of degeneracy, which occurs when many different states have the same energy and the system becomes unstable. The effect of temperature is to break this situation. We may be able to use this phenomenon for new types of computational information storage or concepts, such as those similar to our brains.