Science and Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

Stephen Leone, Norman Yao
Berkeley, CA
December 2018


A central goal of modern physics is the discovery and characterization of all phases of matter allowed by nature.  Certain phases, such as solid ice or liquid water, and the associated melting transition between them, are described by classical physics, while others, including the formation of superfluids and superconductors are intrinsically quantum mechanical.  The key difference between them is the idea of “many-body entanglement,” which describes a specific type of quantum mechanical correlation.  A pair of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley proposes to experimentally realize two novel types of quantum matter that only occur outside the traditional venue of thermal equilibrium.  These two non-equilibrium quantum phases can only be stabilized in the presence of a strong periodic external driving force.  In addition, they will utilize a new technique, ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy, to probe these non-equilibrium states of matter with unprecedented temporal resolution.  Experiments will be carried out to realize an example of an interacting topological phase stabilized by laser driving, as well as a disorder-free pre-thermal time crystal in diamond.  In the process, the researchers will address several outstanding scientific questions facing the field of non-equilibrium quantum matter: whether such matter is only stable in the presence of disorder, i.e., random impurities, defects, or dislocations, and whether, due to the interplay between symmetry and topology, one can observe different material properties at the lattice scale.  Realizing new strongly-interacting, non equilibrium phases in driven laboratory experiments will open the door to a new forum for understanding and classifying quantum matter.



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