Monopoles Found

September 4, 2009

Back in May, I posted a note about the search for the elusive magneric monopole, and talked a bit about how some scientists had suggested a way in which monopoles might be detected.  Now, the PhysOrg Web site has a story reporting the first experimental detection of magnetic monopoles in a magnetic substance.

Researchers from the Helmholtz Centre Berlin, in cooperation with colleagues from Dresden, St. Andrews, La Plata and Oxford, have for the first time observed magnetic monopoles and how they emerge in a real material. They publish this result in the journal Science within the Science Express web site on Sept. 3.

The researchers made the discovery in a neutron-scattering  experiment conducted at the research reactor at the Heimholtz Center of Berlin [HZB].   They used a single crystal of dysprosium titanate, Dy2Ti2O7 (not something you’re likely to find in your medicine cabinet), because it has an unusual crystalline structure.   The monopoles were observed when a magnetic field was applied to the crystal at temperatures between 0.6 and 2.0 Kelvin.

The research is being published in two parts in the journal Science; the abstracts are available here and here.  It’s fascinating that magnetic monopoles, first predicted by Paul Dirac in 1931, have finally been found, after eluding detection for so long.

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