LOS ALAMOS, N.M., June 1, 2006 -- A team of scientists working at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory's Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos has uncovered an intriguing phenomenon while studying magnetic waves in barium copper silicate, a 2,500-year-old pigment known as Han purple. The researchers discovered that when they exposed newly grown crystals of the pigment to very high magnetic fields at very low temperatures, it entered a rarely observed state of matter. At the threshold of that matter state--called the quantum critical point-the waves actually lose a dimension. That is, the magnetic waves go from a three-dimensional to a two-dimensional pattern. The discovery is yet another step toward understanding the quantum mechanics of the universe.
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