Physics Nobel Prize Winners 2016

D.J. Thouless, F.D.M. Haldane & J.M. Kosterlitz for theories in topological states of matter

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Research Paper

Experimental realization of the topological Haldane model with ultracold fermions.

Abstract: The Haldane model on a honeycomb lattice is a paradigmatic example of a Hamiltonian featuring topologically distinct phases of matter. It describes a mechanism through which a quantum Hall effect can appear as an intrinsic property of a band structure, rather than being caused by an external magnetic field. Although physical implementation has been considered unlikely, the Haldane model has provided the conceptual basis for theoretical and experimental research exploring topological insulators and superconductors. Here we report the experimental realization of the Haldane model and the characterization of its topological band structure, using ultracold fermionic atoms in a periodically modulated optical honeycomb lattice. The Haldane model is based on breaking both time-reversal symmetry and inversion symmetry. To break time-reversal symmetry, we introduce complex next-nearest-neighbour tunnelling terms, which we induce through circular modulation of the lattice position. To break inversion symmetry, we create an energy offset between neighbouring sites. Breaking either of these symmetries opens a gap in the band structure, which we probe using momentum-resolved interband transitions. We explore the resulting Berry curvatures, which characterize the topology of the lowest band, by applying a constant force to the atoms and find orthogonal drifts analogous to a Hall current. The competition between the two broken symmetries gives rise to a transition between topologically distinct regimes. By identifying the vanishing gap at a single Dirac point, we map out this transition line experimentally and quantitatively compare it to calculations using Floquet theory without free parameters. We verify that our approach, which allows us to tune the topological properties dynamically, is suitable even for interacting fermionic systems. Furthermore, we propose a direct extension to realize spin-dependent topological Hamiltonians.

Pub.: 14 Nov '14, Pinned: 13 Oct '16

Research Paper

Non-Abelian Anyons and Topological Quantum Computation

Abstract: Topological quantum computation has recently emerged as one of the most exciting approaches to constructing a fault-tolerant quantum computer. The proposal relies on the existence of topological states of matter whose quasiparticle excitations are neither bosons nor fermions, but are particles known as {\it Non-Abelian anyons}, meaning that they obey {\it non-Abelian braiding statistics}. Quantum information is stored in states with multiple quasiparticles, which have a topological degeneracy. The unitary gate operations which are necessary for quantum computation are carried out by braiding quasiparticles, and then measuring the multi-quasiparticle states. The fault-tolerance of a topological quantum computer arises from the non-local encoding of the states of the quasiparticles, which makes them immune to errors caused by local perturbations. To date, the only such topological states thought to have been found in nature are fractional quantum Hall states, most prominently the \nu=5/2 state, although several other prospective candidates have been proposed in systems as disparate as ultra-cold atoms in optical lattices and thin film superconductors. In this review article, we describe current research in this field, focusing on the general theoretical concepts of non-Abelian statistics as it relates to topological quantum computation, on understanding non-Abelian quantum Hall states, on proposed experiments to detect non-Abelian anyons, and on proposed architectures for a topological quantum computer. We address both the mathematical underpinnings of topological quantum computation and the physics of the subject using the \nu=5/2 fractional quantum Hall state as the archetype of a non-Abelian topological state enabling fault-tolerant quantum computation.

Pub.: 27 Mar '08, Pinned: 13 Oct '16

Research Paper

The properties of Haldane excitations and multi-particle states in the antiferromagnetic spin-1 chain compound CsNiCl

Abstract: We report inelastic time-of-flight and triple-axis neutron scattering measurements of the excitation spectrum of the coupled antiferromagnetic spin-1 Heisenberg chain system CsNiCl3. Measurements over a wide range of wave-vector transfers along the chain confirm that above T_N CsNiCl3 is in a quantum-disordered phase with an energy gap in the excitation spectrum. The spin correlations fall off exponentially with increasing distance with a correlation length xi=4.0(2) sites at T=6.2K. This is shorter than the correlation length for an antiferromagnetic spin-1 Heisenberg chain at this temperature, suggesting that the correlations perpendicular to the chain direction and associated with the interchain coupling lower the single-chain correlation length. A multi-particle continuum is observed in the quantum-disordered phase in the region in reciprocal space where antiferromagnetic fluctuations are strongest, extending in energy up to twice the maximum of the dispersion of the well-defined triplet excitations. We show that the continuum satisfies the Hohenberg-Brinkman sum rule. The dependence of the multi-particle continuum on the chain wave-vector resembles that of the two-spinon continuum in antiferromagnetic spin-1/2 Heisenberg chains. This suggests the presence of spin-1/2 degrees of freedom in CsNiCl3 for T < 12K, possibly caused by multiply-frustrated interchain interactions.

Pub.: 09 Dec '01, Pinned: 13 Oct '16