Much like a flock of birds in motion need to know what their neighbors are doing, electrons and magnetic moments in a solid need to interact if they are to successfully order or arrange themselves into a new state. If one or two birds are missing, the unit can still function, but if too many are removed, it becomes hard to coordinate the flock. Studying a magnetic compound containing cerium, scientists found that the magnetism on cerium is like rare birds that can fly as part of a flock even when most of the group is gone. Researchers found that they could remove between 80 and 95% of the cerium atoms and still have the remaining cerium not only communicate, but also enter into a complex, magnetically ordered state. Coherent communication between such dilute cerium is unprecedented and hints at more robust communication mechanisms (interactions) than originally imagined.
Remarkably Robust and Correlated Coherence and Antiferromagnetism in(Ce1−xLax)Cu2Ge2