At the turn of the 20th century, physicists faced an uncanny range of unsolved problems: simple questions, such as why hot objects change color, why matter is hard and why the sun keeps on shining, went unanswered. These problems heralded a new era of quantum physics. What was truly remarkable about discovery in this heroic era, was the intertwined nature of research in the lab and in the cosmos: solving superconductivity really did help answer why the sun keeps on shining, while looking at the stars provided clues as to why matter is hard. The challenges facing us today, epitomized by our failure to quantize gravity and the mysteries of dark matter and energy, are not just problems facing particle physics and astronomy, but problems that challenge physics to its core. What is perhaps less well known, is that physics in the lab and cosmos are just as intertwined today, as they were a hundred years ago. I will talk today about the less well-known dark matter challenges of the solid state, epitomized by the strange metals with linear resistivity that accompany high temperature superconductivity, the recent discovery of insulators with Fermi surfaces and quantum criticality - the solid-state version of a black hole in the phase diagram. The solution of these laboratory-scale problems fundamentally challenge our understanding of emergent quantum matter, and they are no less intertwined with their cosmological counterparts than they were a hundred years ago. I will highlight three Dark-Matter challenges that have arisen in heavy fermion physics[1-4], emphasizing their connections with other strongly correlated quantum materials and discussing some of our recent theoretical efforts to make progress on them: quantum criticality, hidden order and the possibility of new classes of broken symmetry outside the Hartree-Fock/BCS paradigm and topology .  Piers Coleman, “Heavy Fermions and the Kondo Lattice, a 21st Century Perspective”, arXiv:1509.05769 (2015).  Joe Thompson and Zachary Fisk, “Progress in Heavy Fermion Superconductivity: Ce115 and other materials”, J. Phys. Soc. Jpn. 81, 011002 (2012).  Philipp Gegenwart, Qimiao Si and Frank Steglich, ”Quantum criticality in heavy-fermion metals”,Nature Physics 4, 186 - 197 (2008).  Maxim Dzero et al, “Topological Kondo Insulators”, arXiv 1506.05635, Ann. Rev. Cond. Matt. Phys., Volume 7:249-280 (2016).  B. S. Tan et. al, “Unconventional Fermi surface in an insulating state”, Science 349, 287-290 (2015).
One of the most interesting phenomena exhibited by many-body systems in equilibrium is the possibility of phase transitions, i.e. the sudden change of system properties occurring when external control parameters are varied smoothly. New experimental developments of the past decade, which allow us to induce and observe non-equilibrium dynamics in quantum many-body systems with high precision, triggered a lot of interest in theoretical aspects of this dynamics. This includes the question whether and in what sense phase transitions can occur far from equilibrium. In this talk I will discuss two types of critical behavior arising in quantum systems out of equilibrium, namely transitions in the characteristics of non-equilibrium steady states and dynamical quantum phase transitions. While the first kind of transition is driven by the change of an external parameter, dynamical quantum phase transitions are driven by progressing time.
The theory of dynamical quantum phase transitions represents an attempt to extend the concept of phase transitions to the far from equilibrium regime. While there are many formal analogies to conventional transitions, it is a major question to which extent it is possible to formulate a nonequilibrium counterpart to a Landau-Ginzburg theory. In this work we take a first step in this direction by constructing an effective free energy for continuous dynamical quantum phase transitions appearing after quantum quenches in the transverse-field Ising chain. Due to unitarity of quantum time evolution this effective free energy becomes a complex quantity transforming the conventional minimization principle of the free energy into a saddle-point equation in the complex plane of the order parameter, which as in equilibrium is the magnetization. We study this effective free energy in the vicinity of the dynamical quantum phase transition by performing an expansion in terms of the complex magnetization and discuss the connections to the equilibrium case. Furthermore, we study the influence of perturbations and signatures of these dynamical quantum phase transitions in spin correlation functions.
The prospect of judiciously utilizing both optical gain and loss has been recently suggested as a means to control the flow of light. This proposition makes use of some newly developed concepts based on non-Hermiticity and parity-time (PT) symmetry-ideas first conceived within quantum field theories. By harnessing such notions, recent works indicate that novel synthetic structures and devices with counter-intuitive properties can be realized, potentially enabling new possibilities in the field of optics and integrated photonics. Non-Hermitian degeneracies, also known as exceptional points (EPs), have also emerged as a new paradigm for engineering the response of optical systems. In this talk, we provide an overview of recent developments in this newly emerging field. The use of other type symmetries in photonics will be also discussed.
Thirty years ago, scientists first observed that when a small amount of gold is deposited on the surface of silicon, both the gold and silicon atoms automatically organize themselves into parallel linear rows, so-called "atom chains", with nearly perfect structural order. This observation marked the beginning of a new research direction in which theoretical predictions about "physics in one dimension" could now be investigated experimentally using the standard tools of surface science such as scanning tunneling microscopy, x-ray diffraction, and photoemission. A particularly striking discovery, first reported ten years ago, was that at low temperature the silicon chains can develop local magnetic moments, which form regular highly ordered, periodic patterns. These "silicon spin chains" have now become the main focus of this research field. This talk will describe three recent theoretical and experimental aspects of silicon spin chains: the possibility of magnetic ordering in these one-dimensional systems; the prospects for using surface chemistry to tailor spin chains by creating or destroying individual spins; and the properties and dynamics of solitons in the spin chains.
A fundamental assumption in statistical physics is that generic closed quantum many-body systems thermalise under their own dynamics. Recently, the emergence of many-body localised (MBL) systems has questioned this concept, challenging our understanding of the connection between statistical physics and quantum mechanics. In my talk, I will report on several recent experiments carried out in our group on the observation of Many-Body Localisation in different scenarios, ranging from 1D fermionic quantum gas mixtures in driven and undriven Aubry-André type disorder potentials and 2D systems of interacting bosons in 2D random potentials. It is shown that the memory of the system on its initial non-equilibrium state can serve as a useful indicator for a non-ergodic, MBL phase. Furthermore, I will present new results on the slow relaxation dynamics in the ergodic phase below the MBL transition and experiments that explore the resilience of a 2D MBL phase when coupled to a finite thermal bath. Our experiments represent a demonstration and in-depth characterisation of many-body localisation, often in regimes not accessible with state-of-the-art simulations on classical computers.