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Novel quantum phase opens up for sustainable technology

A novel quantum phase and a new quasiparticle has been discovered by a researcher at Stockholm University. The results can be useful in developing quantum technology based on sustainable materials.

Matthias Geilhufe
Matthias Geilhufe at Nordita is author of the study.

Quantum technology sets new standards in computation, communication, and sensing. Quantum materials exhibit quantum effects on the macroscopic scale and count as the main technology driver. These quantum effects are emergent phenomena, arising from a massive amount of electrons and ions. Our understanding of these phenomena is mostly based on the assumption of simple systems. Still, it has been successful in describing phenomena like magnetism, ferroelectricity and superconductivity.

Metal organic frameworks are a new materials class, discovered in the early 1990s. These materials are complex, with sparse unconventional crystal structures. While these materials are of significant importance to chemists, they have mostly been ignored in the field of quantum materials.


"Collective buckling" – new quantum phase

A new study, published in the journal Nano Letters, shows that complex metal organic frameworks exhibit a novel quantum phase called "collective buckling". Here, each molecule in the framework forms a mechanical qubit. These qubits entangle with their neighboring partners and form a massively entangled collective state. Due to the softness of the materials, this state can be tuned easily by applying pressure.


New quasiparticle

“This result opens the prospect for realizing mechanical quantum devices or investigating the nature of quantum critical phenomena in an experimentally feasible way. The excitations of this novel quantum phase are called "bucklons", a new quasiparticle, beyond the standard model of condensed matter physics,” says Matthias Geilhufe at Nordita, the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics hosted by Stockholm University with KTH, and author of the study.


Link to research on sustainable materials

Matthias Geilhufe also sees possibilities of linking his research in this area to the ongoing research at the new interdisciplinary Stockholm University Center for Circular and Sustainable Systems, SUCCeSS. At the center there is focus on (bio) metal-organic frameworks, aiming to replace current functional materials by sustainable counterparts. “With my work, I see an additional prospect. The specific quantum phenomenon I discovered is not present in conventional materials, i.e., novel materials might point us into phenomena we haven't known before,” says Matthias Geilhufe. This links interdisciplinary research between the theoretical condensed matter group at Nordita and SUCCeSS.

Read article in Nano Letters
More reading: Using AI guides to find new materials for electronics and more

Founding sources
The research is founded by ERC Synergy Grant ‘HERO’, VILLUM FONDEN via Centre of Excellence for Dirac Materials, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Vetenskapsrådet and Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC).