The researchers found that magnetic spins in the silvery metal neodymium “freeze” into a static pattern when the temperature increases, as opposed to the usual circumstance where it only occurs when the temperature decreases.
Neodymium is a “self-induced spin glass,” meaning that each of its atoms behaves like a tiny magnet, pointing in a different direction. The spins create patterns that are ever-evolving and whirl like helixes.
Neodymium’s spin “freezes” into a solid pattern when heated from -268 C to -265 C, according to research, creating a magnet. The helix pattern reappeared after cooling.
According to Radboud University professor of scanning probe microscopy Alexander Khajetoorians, “this ‘freezing’ of the pattern does not normally occur in magnetic material.”
“The magnetic behavior in neodymium that we saw actually goes against what happens ‘normally. It is quite illogical, similar to how heating water makes it turn into an ice cube.
Rochelle salt is one of the very few materials that demonstrates this property, where charges form an orderly pattern at a higher temperature but become more randomly distributed at a lower temperature.
The cause of this, according to scientists, is degeneracy: when numerous states share the same energy, the system may become “frustrated.” Utilizing this material’s characteristics is thought to open up new possibilities for computational storage.