In a groundbreaking study published in Nature Physics, Cornell quantum researchers have identified the elusive Bragg glass phase through the use of advanced machine learning data analysis tools and large volumes of X-ray data. This discovery marks a significant milestone in the field of quantum physics, resolving a long-standing debate about the existence of the Bragg glass phase in real materials. Lead author Krishnanand Madhukar Mallayya and corresponding author Eun-Ah Kim, along with their team of researchers from Cornell University, Argonne National Laboratory, and Stanford University, have demonstrated the presence of the Bragg glass phase in the systematically disordered charge density wave material, PdxErTe3.

The Bragg glass phase represents a unique state of matter that lies between the extremes of long-range order and complete disorder. In this phase, the charge density wave correlation decays at an extremely slow rate, almost vanishing only at infinite distances. This distinction between the Bragg glass phase and the disordered state poses a significant challenge in experimental data analysis, as it necessitates the differentiation of subtle signatures amidst factors such as noise and limited resolution in experimental setups.

To address these challenges, the researchers adopted a multidimensional approach that combined advancements in materials science, data analysis, and machine learning techniques. By leveraging a family of CDW materials, particularly PdxErTe3, the team was able to conduct a systematic study with precise control over experimental variables. Additionally, the researchers collected extensive X-ray data at Argonne National Laboratory, enabling them to access the entire bulk of the material and not just its surface.

One of the key innovations in this study was the utilization of a novel machine learning data analysis tool known as X-ray Temperature Clustering (X-TEC). This tool allowed the researchers to process and analyze the massive volumes of X-ray data in a scalable and automated manner. By targeting fluctuations in the data through the measurement of “peak spread,” X-TEC provided valuable insights into the Bragg glass phase and its implications for understanding the interplay between disorder and fluctuations in quantum materials.

The detection of the Bragg glass phase not only settles the debate regarding the existence of this unique phase of matter but also opens up new avenues for research in the era of large data. By combining machine learning tools with data-scientific perspectives, researchers can now tackle complex scientific questions and uncover subtle signatures through comprehensive data analysis. This study represents a paradigm shift in how quantum phenomena are studied, paving the way for future advancements in the field of quantum physics.


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