Caltech physicists uncover novel phase of matter

California Institute of Technology

The building block of this type of order, namely charge, is simply a scalar quantity–that is, it can be described by just a numerical value, or magnitude. Over the last several decades, physicists have developed sophisticated techniques to look for both of these types of phases. But what if the electrons in a material are not ordered in one of those ways? We found that light reflected at the second harmonic frequency revealed a set of symmetries completely different from those of the known crystal structure, whereas this effect was completely absent for light reflected at the fundamental frequency, says Hsieh. Recently, a pseudogap phase also has been observed in Sr2IrO4–and Hsieh’s group has found that the multipolar order they have identified exists over a doping and temperature window where the pseudogap is present.

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