A new spin on superconductivity?: The crystal, known as herbertsmithite, is part of a family of crystals called Zn-paratacamites, which were first discovered in 1906. Physicists started paying more attention to quantum spin liquids in 1987, when Nobel laureate Philip W. Anderson theorized that quantum spin liquid theory may relate to the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, which allows materials to conduct electricity with no resistance at temperatures above 20 degrees Kelvin (-253 degrees Celsius).
To test this theory, scientists have been looking for materials that preserve quantum spin (a measure of angular momentum) dynamics down to milli Kelvin temperatures (those below -273 degrees Celsius). Almost all ordinary materials lose their spin dynamics at such low temperatures, just as they lose all of their kinetic energy.
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