Physicists Bridge Two Quantum Worlds

Scientists from Rice University have unveiled that enduring topological states, which hold immense potential in quantum computing, can intertwine with other adjustable quantum states in specific materials.

This unforeseen discovery forms a connection between areas of condensed matter physics that have previously concentrated on different emerging qualities of quantum substances.

For instance, in topological substances, quantum entanglement patterns yield “shielded” unchangeable states that have potential applications in quantum computing and spintronics.

On the other hand, in strongly linked materials, the intricate entanglement of countless electrons leads to phenomena like unique superconductivity and the constant magnetic shifts seen in quantum spin liquids.

In their research, Si, along with co-researcher Haoyu Hu, who was previously a graduate student under his guidance, crafted and examined a quantum model to probe electron interactions within a “challenged” lattice setup, akin to what’s seen in metals and semimetals characterized by “flat bands”.

In these states, electrons become immobilized, amplifying the effects of strong correlations. Si’s investigation is a continuation of his efforts, which were recognized when he secured the esteemed Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship from the Defense Department in July.

His aim is to authenticate a theoretical structure that governs topological matter states. Through their research, Si and Hu illustrated that electrons derived from d atomic orbitals can integrate into expansive molecular orbitals, distributed amongst multiple atoms in the lattice.

Additionally, they found that electrons within these molecular orbitals can intertwine with other challenged electrons, generating powerful correlated impacts.

This wasn’t entirely new to Si, who has dedicated years to examining heavy fermion substances. Si noted that while f-electron systems present pristine instances of robust correlated physics, they aren’t suitable for regular applications.

Moreover, this efficient interlinking remains consistent, even in the presence of a flat band. Drawing an analogy, Si compared it to a particular lane on a highway becoming as sluggish and ineffective as the f-electron unpaved path.