Magnetic monopoles in spin ice

C. Castelnovo, R. Moessner, Shivaji Lal Sondhi

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822 Scopus citations

Abstract

Electrically charged particles, such as the electron, are ubiquitous. In contrast, no elementary particles with a net magnetic charge have ever been observed, despite intensive and prolonged searches (see ref. 1 for example). We pursue an alternative strategy, namely that of realizing them not as elementary but rather as emergent particles - that is, as manifestations of the correlations present in a strongly interacting many-body system. The most prominent examples of emergent quasiparticles are the ones with fractional electric charge e/3 in quantum Hall physics. Here we propose that magnetic monopoles emerge in a class of exotic magnets known collectively as spin ice: the dipole moment of the underlying electronic degrees of freedom fractionalises into monopoles. This would account for a mysterious phase transition observed experimentally in spin ice in a magnetic field, which is a liquid-gas transition of the magnetic monopoles. These monopoles can also be detected by other means, for example, in an experiment modelled after the Stanford magnetic monopole search.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-45
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume451
Issue number7174
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 3 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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    Castelnovo, C., Moessner, R., & Sondhi, S. L. (2008). Magnetic monopoles in spin ice. Nature, 451(7174), 42-45. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06433