In a groundbreaking discovery, physicists wielding a diamond needle tipped with a single electron have identified seemingly implausible one-sided magnets swirling along the surface of hematite, a mineral composed of iron oxide. This revelation challenges traditional notions of magnetism and may pave the way for advancements in computer memory technology.

The laws of physics, as currently understood, assert the impossibility of magnets possessing only one pole. However, when dealing with particles at the microscopic level, anomalies arise, allowing for unconventional phenomena. Researchers, led by Jani, uncovered magnetic monopoles on the surface of hematite—tiny bits of magnetic matter exhibiting a sole pole, contrary to the usual two.

The unique structure of hematite’s surface, characterized by microscopic swirls, enables groups of particles to generate minuscule magnetic fields with just one pole through their collective rotation. While conventional magnets exhibit both north and south poles, these emergent properties on the hematite surface defy the norm, presenting quasi-particles with singular magnetic poles.

In their study, the scientists employed diamond quantum magnetometry, a sophisticated imaging technique. This method utilizes the angular momentum of an electron positioned at the tip of a diamond needle to measure small magnetic fields without disrupting their behavior. The collaboration of particles on the hematite surface, driven by their combined angular momentum, creates the effect of a single particle with a lone magnetic pole—a phenomenon referred to as a “quasi-particle.”

The significance of this discovery extends to the realm of computer memory technology, which relies on magnets and magnetic spin. The isolation of monopoles, even in the form of quasi-particles, grants engineers enhanced control over magnetic spin. This newfound control may allow for the sorting and storage of data based on the direction of magnetic poles, potentially leading to more energy-efficient computer memory systems.

In essence, the exploration of single-pole magnets on hematite surfaces opens a promising avenue for advancements in technology, challenging established principles and offering potential breakthroughs in the field of magnetic-based data storage.

By Impact Lab