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Detection of Kardar–Parisi–Zhang hydrodynamics in a quantum Heisenberg spin-1/2 chain


Classical hydrodynamics is a remarkably versatile description of the coarse-grained behaviour of many-particle systems once local equilibrium has been established1. The form of the hydrodynamical equations is determined primarily by the conserved quantities present in a system. Some quantum spin chains are known to possess, even in the simplest cases, a greatly expanded set of conservation laws, and recent work suggests that these laws strongly modify collective spin dynamics, even at high temperature2,3. Here, by probing the dynamical exponent of the one-dimensional Heisenberg antiferromagnet KCuF3 with neutron scattering, we find evidence that the spin dynamics are well described by the dynamical exponent z = 3/2, which is consistent with the recent theoretical conjecture that the dynamics of this quantum system are described by the Kardar–Parisi–Zhang universality class4,5. This observation shows that low-energy inelastic neutron scattering at moderate temperatures can reveal the details of emergent quantum fluid properties like those arising in non-Fermi liquids in higher dimensions.

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