Prof. Amir Yacoby is one of 20 U.S. scientists awarded the grant for Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems (EPiQS) investigations by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Each investigator will receive $1.6 million of unrestricted support over the next five years to pursue innovative, risky research with a potential for significant advances in the concepts and methods used to investigate quantum materials. The collective impact of these investigators will produce a more comprehensive understanding of the fundamental organizing principles of complex quantum matter in solids.
Yacoby group explores new measurement approaches to unravel physical phenomena arising from the interactions between electrons in a variety of systems of reduced dimensionality. The group has developed new scanning probe techniques: a scanning single electron transistor, capable of imaging fractional electronic charge, and a scanning spin quantum bit, capable of imaging weak magnetic fields with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. It also investigates physics of interacting electrons in layered materials, hybrid topological superconductivity, and the use of localized electron spins in semiconductors for encoding quantum information.
An exciting current research thrust is the development of new experimental techniques for probing magnetic states in materials using magnons (spin waves). Prof. Yacoby and his group has succeeded in developing methods for the creation of coherent magnons and are now working on measurement schemes in which magnon propagation and scattering are used as a probe. This novel tool is expected to be capable of interrogating fundamental properties of important classes of quantum materials such as graphene, graphene bilayers, and stacks of transition metal dichalcogenides. Based on theoretical predictions, these materials should host exotic magnetic excitations that cannot be effectively probed using conventional experimental probes.
In parallel, the group is exploring ways to create artificial topological superconductors hosting emergent Majorana fermions, which are of great interest for fault-tolerant quantum computation. The ersearchers have developed a two-dimensional nano-engineered platform for realizing topological superconductivity, which offers great robustness and removes the need for fine tuning of materials’ properties. The elementary building block of this platform is a long Josephson junction consisting of two conventional superconducting electrodes separated by a semiconductor with strong spin-orbit interaction. Reaching the topological phase simply requires application of an in-plane magnetic field and tuning the phase difference across the junction. Further development of this platform should allow controlled creation and manipulation of Majorana fermions. Once fundamental properties of this system are understood, it will be used as a building block to create even more complex nano-engineered systems that either realize some of the important theoretical models or lead to entirely unexplored physics.