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The story of anti-ferromagntism

  1. Oct 22, 2012 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2012 #2
    Perhaps whatever is mentioned stemmed from his work on quantum work on diamagnetism:


    This statement is not technically correct:

  4. Nov 20, 2012 #3
    I think the issue is that allow ferromagnets break symmetry, their broken symmetry state is still an eigenstate of the quantum Heisenberg Hamiltonian. The Neel state on the other hand is not an eigenstate of the Hamiltonian. There was a long debate about whether such a state was actually possible. Not sure how Landau figured into this, but a lot of scientists were of the opinion that quantum fluctuations would "melt" the order, which is the case, of course, in low dimensional systems.

    So, both sides were right, really.
  5. Nov 21, 2012 #4
    There are a lot of things mixed up here, and the end result is a big mess.

    • The Néel state exists and has been observed by many methods in thousands of materials (literally!). Good techniques to study details of antiferromagnetic order are neutron and x-ray scattering
    • Unlike ferro- (FM) and ferrimagnets (FIM) , antiferromagnets (AFM) do not have a large macroscopic magnetization. I guess this is what Landau was referring to. In fact, the antiferromagnetic state has a smaller magnetization than the paramagnetic state of the same material. You can clearly observe this by measuring magnetization or susceptibility as function of temperature across the phase transition at the Néel temperature.
    • FM, FIM and AFM all break several symmetries - e.g. time reversal symmetry. AFM breaks translation symmetry. FM, FI and often AFM break discrete rotational symmetries. E.g. when a cubic material becomes FM then macroscopic magnetization defines a special direction.
    • All magnetic order, including AFM, FM and FIM can be broken by thermal fluctuations when the material is heated above the Néel- or Curie temperature, where a order-disorder phase transition takes place.
    • All of these states are perfectly stable and are thus eigenstates of the Hamiltonian
    • In some cases the FM, FIM or AFM order parameter can be suppressed by pressure, doping or magnetic fields, even at zero temperature (at least in theory, in practice nobody can ever reach zero temperature). In that case the order gets destroyed by quantum fluctuations, rather than "normal" thermal fluctuations. This is a field of current research, and in particular it is thought to be related to high-temperature superconductivity.
    • There has been a long debate about 1D and 2D magnetism. The Mermin-Wagner theorem states that at finite temperature for dimensions <= 2 continuous symmetries cannot be broken.
      The 2D Ising model, on the other hand, shows that for discrete symmetries this is possible.

    I believe this is wrong. Can you provide a reference?

    As a general, sweeping statement this is clearly wrong, unless (maybe) you refer to discussions that took place in the 1930ies. Could you please quote a specific example where this was discussed?
  6. Nov 21, 2012 #5
    Trust me, there's no mess here (anymore) :P
    Keep in mind, the debates I was referring to occurred in the 1930s. Since then we've sorted out a lot of things.

    You have to keep in mind that neutron diffraction really only emerged in the late 1940s / early 1950s, and I think was the first measurement to give clear indication of the Neel state. Before then it was not clear that antiferromagnets broke translational / time reversal / whatever symmetry. Neel showed such a broken symmetry state was a good mean field solution, but it wasn't clear whether it was stable. The alternative is a sort of resonating valence bond state, which in some cases gives a lower variational energy.

    True, but the bulk response such as magnetic susceptibility doesn't tell you anything about the microscopic details of the state in question. So it isn't useful in the debate in question.


    That is strictly not true!!!

    Here I believe you're referring to quantum phase transitions / quantum criticality. These issues are somewhat related to the discussion, but not really. That field is certainly more modern than the 1930s.


    You don't really need a reference - you can prove it for yourself. On two sites, the eigenstates of the Heisenberg Hamiltonian are the m_s = +1,0,-1 states in the triplet, and the m_s=0 state in the singlet. The Neel state is the broken symmetry state obtained from a linear combination of the m_s=0 triplet and singlet states. Write out the Hamiltonian, and you'll see it's not an eigenstate. Some thought the AFM state should be some generalization of the m_s=0 singlet on the two sites, which is "quantum disordered". This is the solution in 1D, for example.

    Well, let me be more specific - quantum fluctuations may prevent ordering in low dimensional systems at least at T = 0, when the Hamiltonian has a continuous symmetry. The point here is that the Mermin-Wagner theorem states there is no order at finite temperature in classical systems in 1D or 2D because there are sort of "too many" low energy fluctuations that are thermally driven at finite temperature. But what about at T=0? Shouldn't ordering be possible when thermal fluctuations are absent? The answer, if you're dealing with a quantum system is "not necessarily". The key idea is there is a mapping between quantum systems at T=0 to classical systems at finite temperature, and in one higher dimension. The effective temperature in the classical analogue has to do with the details of the model, such as the value of the spin at each site. The quantum fluctuations present in the quantum model transform to thermal fluctuations in the classical mapping.

    Okay, so in 1D, at T=0, for a quantum Heisenberg model, the mapping takes us to a 2D classical model at finite temperature. Mermin-Wagner says there is no long range order. So, even at T=0 there is no order in the 1D quantum model, which has nothing to do with thermal fluctuations, and everything to do with quantum fluctuations. For the 2D quantum model, you map onto a 3D classical model, which may be ordered, or may not, depending on your effective temperature.

    I'm pretty sure this is discussed in Assa Auerbach's book.

    Anyway, if you don't believe me, here's what Phil Anderson has to say:
    source: http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/23362_1.html

  7. Nov 22, 2012 #6
    Maybe you should have pointed that out. The understanding of magnetism as advanced a bit since then.

    Yes, but today neutron scattering is a standard technique. There are several schools each year where you can learn the basic techniques.

    Yes and yes. Again, I was not aware that this whole discussion is about the 1930s.

    I will have to sit down with a piece of paper to check this.

    That book looks interesting. If I ever run out of thinks I *have* to read...

    Back to the 1930s, or 50s or whatever.

    From a history of science point of view this is very interesting, and I guess Landau's statement was made in a historic context.
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