Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology

22.08.2017

Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter

In physical sciences, certain quantities appear as integer multiples of fundamental and indivisible elements. This quantization of physical quantities, which is at the heart of our description of Nature, made its way through the centuries, as evidenced by the antique concept of the atom.


Probing topology by shaking ultracold atoms in an optical lattice.

Credit: IQOQI Innsbruck / Harald Ritsch

Importantly, the discovery of quantized quantities has often been associated with a revolution in our understanding and appreciation of Nature's law, a striking example being the quantization of light in terms of photons, which led to our contemporary (quantum-mechanical) description of the microscopic world.

In an article published in Science Advances, an international team led by Prof. Nathan Goldman - Faculty of Science, Université libre de Bruxelles - predicts a novel form of quantization law, which involves a distinct type of physical observable: the heating rate of a quantum system upon external shaking. In order to understand this concept, let us first consider a simpler analogous picture:

When an ice cube is placed into a micro-wave oven, the latter excites the water molecules, hence leading to a progressive melting of the ice; during this heating process, the number of molecules that form the ice decreases in time, a process which can be quantified by a heating rate. In the present article, the authors demonstrate how, under specific circumstances, such heating rates must satisfy an elegant and precise quantization law.

Specifically, the authors explain that this phenomenon takes place when a physical system, which initially forms an exotic state of matter (a topological phase), is heated up in a controlled manner; upon heating, particles are ejected from the topological phase (in direct analogy with the melting of ice described above) and the corresponding heating rate is shown to satisfy the aforementioned quantization law.

A crucial aspect of this novel quantization law is that it is dictated by the topological nature of the initial phase of the system, in direct analogy with the quantization of the conductance in solids. To understand this analogy, we remind that the conductance, which determines the efficiency with which electric currents are generated in a material, can be quantized in terms of a "conductance quantum"; this is the signature of the quantum Hall effect, which was celebrated by two Nobel Prizes, in 1985 and in 1998.

Quite surprisingly, this quantization of conductance was shown to be deeply connected to a fundamental mathematical concept: topology. In short, topology aims to classify geometric objects according to their most elementary characteristics, for instance, their number of holes or winding. This elegant relation between the physical quantization of conductance and the abstract concept of topology opened the door to the exploration of a wide family of exotic states of matter, the so-called topological phases, whose discovery was recently honored by the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics. The discovery reported by the international team led by Prof. Goldman thus offers a novel perspective on the intriguing links between quantization laws in physics and topology.

Besides the elegance of this novel quantization law for heating rates, this discovery has an important corollary: heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter. The authors propose a physical platform that is particularly well suited for its experimental realization: an ultracold gas of atoms trapped in an optical lattice (a periodic landscape created by light). Such setups are known to constitute an ideal toolbox for the quantum-engineering of topological matter, but also, for implementing new types of measurements. In practice, the proposed experiment would consist in preparing a topological phase, by loading an ultracold gas into an optical lattice, and in subsequently shaking this lattice in a circular manner; the resulting heating rates would then be extracted by measuring the number of atoms that remained in the topological phase after a certain duration of shaking.

This work emanates from a strong collaboration between the group of Nathan Goldman in Brussels and Prof. Peter Zoller - IQOQI and University of Innsbruck - who occupied the Jacques Solvay International Chair in Physics in 2015. Created in 2006, this International Chair enables the Solvay Institutes to invite an eminent scientist in Brussels for a period of one to two months; the list of Solvay Professors may be found at http://www.solvayinstitutes.be/html/chair.html . This fruitful collaboration also involves researchers from ICFO (Barcelona), Néel Institute (CNRS/Grenoble-Alpes University/Grenoble INP) and University of California Berkeley.

Media Contact

Nathan Goldman
ngoldman@ulb.ac.be
32-265-05797

http://www.ulb.ac.be 

Nathan Goldman | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht When fluid flows almost as fast as light -- with quantum rotation
22.06.2018 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

nachricht Thermal Radiation from Tiny Particles
22.06.2018 | Universität Greifswald

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>