My research is solely focused on numerical simulations of a physical system called Spin Ice (SI). The “Spin” part of the name comes from the fact that the systems are exotic magnets composed of tiny spins, each feeling interacting from every other spin in the system. The “Ice” component of the name is because for these magnets there is an exact mapping to relate them to the structure of regular (cubic) water ice called pyrochlore.
Pyrochlore is a network of corner sharing tetrahedra which is convenient for the physical phenomena of frustration to manifest itself on. At every tetrahedra there is a local constraint called an “Ice-Rule”, where each of the vertices on a tetrahedra must have two magnetic moments (spins) pointing in towards the tetrahedra, and two out. The ice rules must always be satisfied at low temperatures, which prevents the system from behaving the way it would like to, ergo the use of the word frustration!
To combat this preclusion of states, sophisticated simulated annealing techniques can be used to traverse between different ice states where the constraints are still satisfied. Allowing statistical physicists to make predictions about properties that applied physicists try to observe or disprove. Overall it is a very exciting field!