September 22, 2009
A very brief Highlight feature we wrote some time ago on the complementarity between condensed matter and cold-atom experiments has now appeared on the ISIS website:
* J Quintanilla, C Hooley, ST Carr, JJ Betouras, VL Campo Jr and K Capelle, “John Hubbard’s challenge 45 years on”.
September 17, 2009
You may remember a brief mention of Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in our article on strong correlations of a couple of months ago. This month Physics World carries another article, by Barbara Jacak, that discusses that type of strongly-correlated quantum matter in a lot more detail. The new article explains how string theory can be used to connect the experiments at RHIC to others carried out on another type of strongly-correlated system: ultra-cold atomic gases. Well worth reading:
PS: there was also a much more technical article on strongly interacting matter (as the quark-gluon soup is now known) in Rev. Mods. Phys. a few months ago:
Colloquium: Phase diagram of strongly interacting matter
P. Braun-Munzinger and J. Wambach, Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 1031 (2009)
June 26, 2009
In this month’s issue of Physics World there is and article I wrote with Chris Hooley on strong correlations:
J. Quintanilla & C. Hooley,
The strong-correlations puzzle,
Physics World 22, 32-37 (June 2009)
[ online excerpt; complete print version available here ].
What we basically tried to do is explain what is meant by that term, putting it in a historical context and explaining the role that experiments with ultra-cold atoms, as opposed to “traditional” materials, can play in disentangling the mysteries. We placed a lot of emphasis on the model that John Hubbard (pictured) invented here, in the Harwell campus, in the early sixties, and on neutron scattering, which was responsible for the genesis of that model and is still producing many of the main puzzles today. Polite comments and enlightening criticism are certainly most welcome.
(By the way, the same issue of Physics World contains Doug Natelson’s article on single-molecule electronics – as he already informed his blog readers – much more promtly than I have, it has to be said!)
April 14, 2009
A lot of the really interesting phenomena in Condensed Matter Physics only take place at very low temperatures, e.g. superconductivity. This often limits their usefulness, as cryogenic equipment (necessary to achieve such low temperatures) is costly and bulky. THz switching using superocnductors is great for some very specialised applications, but it is not going to give us desktop computers operating at THz speed (=1000 GHz) if that requires the computer in question to be permanently connected to a tank of liquid Helium. But what if every chip had its own, micron-sized cooling devices, so that only the microscopic circuitry itself were at such low temperatures? DARPA believe that such microcryocooling technologies are worth pursuing, and we agree (though for very different reasons!)
April 7, 2009
Today, Orion Ciftja and I have made available on the arXiv a preprint reporting our findings on the possibility of Pomeranchuk instabilities in certain quantum Hall devices. What does that mean? It has to do with electrons confined to move in two dimensions and placed under a strong magnetic field. We look at whether under certain conditions the electrons might undergo phase transition in which the distribution of momenta of the electrons changes due to electron-electron interactions, so that they start to move faster in some directions than others. Which direction they choose is random, but once they have decided, they all conform to that choice. So in that sense it is an example of a broken symmetry. This is a problem we have been working on since Orion and I met at SCES’07. Here is the reference:
Does a Fermi liquid on a half-filled Landau level have Pomeranchuk instabilities?
Jorge Quintanilla and Orion Ciftja,
For the specialists among the readership, here is the abstract:
We present a theory of spontaneous Fermi surface deformations for half-filled Landau levels (filling factors of the form ν = 2n+1/2). We assume the half-filled level to be in a compressible, Fermi liquid state with a circular Fermi surface. The Landau level projection is incorporated via a modified effective electron-electron interaction and the resulting band structure is described within the Hartree-Fock approximation. We regulate the infrared divergences in the theory and probe the intrinsic tendency of the Fermi surface to deform through Pomeranchuk instabilities. We find that the corresponding susceptibility never diverges, though the system is asymptotically unstable in the n → ∞ limit.