Daniel L. SteinDaniel L. Stein

Professor of Physics and Mathematics
Ph.D., Princeton University, 1979

My Research

D.L. Stein: Research on Disordered and Random Materials
(for Non-Physicists, continued)

One familiar example is ordinary window glass, where the atoms or molecules are "stuck" in random locations (as opposed to a regular crystalline array as would be found, for example, in ice).

Magnetic systems can be disordered as well. There are several important kinds of random magnets; within this general area, one of the more difficult and active areas of research concerns systems known as spin glasses. These are disordered magnetic systems that contain numerous internal, conflicting constraints, so that a substantial fraction cannot be satisfied by any arrangement of the atomic-size magnets that make up the spin glass. This property is known, not surprisingly, as "frustration." Spin glasses are thought to be prototypes for studying macroscopic "frozen-in" (or quenched) disorder coupled with frustration.

Disordered systems in general present both fundamental scientific challenges and at the same time hold great promise for applications. The latter includes not only the possibility of new materials and devices but also the creation of new algorithms, and applications to the biological and other sciences.

Sketch of frustrated
	 interactions; see
	 Scientific American v. 260, pp. 52 -- 59 (1989).


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