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The 356th forum: On Ising's model of ferromagnetism

Date: 2019-01-21
Time: 14:30
Venue: M253
Speaker: Professor N. Peter Armitage

Johns Hopkins University


N. Peter Armitage is a physicist whose research centers on material systems which exhibit coherent quantum effects at low temperatures, like superconductors and quantum magnetism. He is exploiting and developing recent technical breakthroughs using very low frequency microwave and THz range radiation to probe these systems at their natural frequency scales.

Prof. Armitage has been the recipient of a DARPA Young Faculty Award, an NSF Career Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, was a three-time Kavli Frontiers Fellow, the Spicer Award from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, the McMillan Award from the University of Illinois and 2016 Genzel Prize. He was also the co-chair of the 2014 Gordon Research Conference in Correlated Electron Systems.


The 1D Ising model is a classical model of great historical significance for both classical and quantum statistical mechanics. Developments in the understanding of the Ising model have fundamentally impacted our knowledge of thermodynamics, critical phenomena, magnetism, conformal quantum field theories, particle physics, and emergence in many-body systems. Despite the theoretical impact of the Ising model there have been very few good 1D realizations of it in actual real material systems. However, it has been pointed out recently, that the material CoNb2O6, has a number of features that may make it the most ideal realization we have of the Ising model in one dimension. In this talk I will discuss the surprisingly complex physics resulting in this simple model and review the history of "Ising’s model” from both a scientific and human perspective. In the modern context I will review recent experiments by my group and others on CoNb2O6. I want to give some perspective about how those of interested in the physics of condensed matter can go searching for material systems that are realizations of particular Hamiltonians. And I will show how low frequency light in the THz range gives unique insight into the tremendous zoo of phenomena arising in this simple material system. It is remarkable that in a system as simple as this quasi-1D chain, analogies to phenomena and mathematical structures as diverse as quark confinement, quantum number fractionalization, Majorana fermions, Airy functions, and a 248-dimensional Lie algebra(!) can be found.

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