Third Law of Thermodynamics also applies for Spin Ice Films: Study

Third Law of Thermodynamics also applies for Spin Ice Films: Study

Nanotech scientists have found that the Third Law of Thermodynamics and the odd behaviors of spin ice could have implications for data storage. They also talked about unexpected behaviors at near-absolute zero.

The scientists based their conclusions on results of a study that saw creation of thin films of spin ice for the first time. The study conducted at University College London showed how these thin films of spin ice could be manipulated.

Thin films ice show magnetic properties and are normally believed to be the only thing that does not freeze at absolute zero. As per the Third Law of Thermodynamics, at absolute zero Kelvin, the entropy of a perfect crystal is exactly equal to zero. However the one exception to the theory was believed to be the spin ice, as its inherent atomic magnetic moments keep up their random spins even at -273 degrees centigrade.

However, the UCL researchers found the contradiction to the belief after they grew a film of spin ice just a few nanometers thick and then exposing it to X-ray diffraction. As a matter of fact, they discovered that the entropy within the spin ice disappeared at a half-degree above absolute zero, which clearly indicated that the Third Law has correct implications.

"Using X-ray diffraction at the LCN, the researchers showed that the films are slightly strained by the 'substrate' on which they are grown, which causes the loss of entropy", said UCL's Dr. Laura Bovo.

The researchers are now of a firm belief that manipulation of the substrate strain, will enable them to control the spin ice state and eventually pave a way for the control and manipulation of magnetricity and magnetic monopoles.

The research could unlock possibilities for incredibly dense storage, which would lead hard-drives to have much more space exponentially that what is today.

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