Ali Yazdani Loeb Lectures: Spotting the Elusive Majorana under the Microscope

October 12, 2016

Colloquium: "Spotting the Elusive Majorana under the Microscope"

Monday, Oct 31, 2016 @ 4:15pm
Jefferson 250, 17 Oxford Street, Cambridge
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Ettore Majorana famously considered that there may be fermions in nature that are their own antiparticle - and then he mysteriously disappeared just after proposing the idea in 1938. In recent years, we have learned how to engineer materials that harbor quasiparticles that behave as the fermions Majorana had envisioned. In this talk, I will describe how we can now create materials that harbor Majorana fermions and our unique ability to visualize them. I also will discuss how Majoranas in materials have exotic properties beyond just being their own antiparticles and their potential for creating a quantum computer.

Lecture I: "Visualizing a Nematic Quantum Liquid"

Tuesday, Nov 1, 2016 @ 4:15pm
Science Center Hall D, 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge
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Electrons in solids form quantum liquids that are expected to respect the symmetry of the underlying lattice. In recent years, it has been proposed that interactions between electrons can create more exotic quantum liquids, in which the electrons' wavefunctions spontaneously break the lattice symmetry to create quantum analogs of classical liquid crystal phases. I will describe how we have directly observed such a quantum liquid for interacting electrons confined to a surface of a material and in the presence of high magnetic fields.

Lecture II: "Topological Connections and Protection in Metals and Insulators"

Thursday, Nov 3, 2016 @ 4:15pm
Jefferson 250, 17 Oxford Street, Cambridge
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In the past decade, it has been realized that topology of the electronic bands in solids can give rise to distinct types of metals and insulators. Electrons at the boundaries of these topological metals and insulators behave very differently than electrons on the surfaces of other materials. They may not scatter backward when they encounter an impurity, they can overcome obstacles by going around them, or sometimes sink into the bulk when their momentum has a special value. I will describe how we have imaged these topological boundary states on different types of materials and have detected some of their special properties.