Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have made advances in better understanding correlated quantum matter that could change technology as we know it, according to a study published in the Nov. 20 edition of Nature.
W. Vincent Liu, associate professor of physics in Pitt's Department of Physics and Astronomy, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland and the University of Hamburg in Germany, has been studying topological states in order to advance quantum computing, a method that harnesses the power of atoms and molecules for computational tasks. Through his research, with more than $1 million in funding from two consecutive four-year grants from the U.S. Army Research Office and a five-year shared grant from the DARPA Optical Lattice Emulator Program, Liu and his team have been studying orbital degrees of freedom and nano-Kelvin cold atoms in optical lattices (a set of standing wave lasers) to better understand new quantum states of matter.
From that research, a surprising topological semimetal has emerged.
"We never expected a result like this based on previous studies," said Liu. "We were surprised to find that such a simple system could reveal itself as a new type of topological state -- an insulator that shares the same properties as a quantum Hall state in solid materials."
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