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We are the Theory group of LPS!

If you are interested in doing an internship with us, or want to visit and discuss, please contact any of our members.

We are a very collaborative group which covers a wide range of topics from material sciences (functional materials, topological and relativistic matter, magnetism and superconductivity...) and quantum systems (in low dimensions, under magnetic fields, in and out-of equilibrium...) to soft and bio- matter (colloids, liquid crystals...).

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  • Most recent peer-reviewed publications are below.

Recent Publications

Y. Zhang, et al., “Machine learning in electronic-quantum-matter imaging experiments”, Nature, vol. 570, p. 484-490, 2019. WebsiteAbstract
For centuries, the scientific discovery process has been based on systematic human observation and analysis of natural phenomena1. Today, however, automated instrumentation and large-scale data acquisition are generating datasets of such large volume and complexity as to defy conventional scientific methodology. Radically different scientific approaches are needed, and machine learning (ML) shows great promise for research fields such as materials science2-5. Given the success of ML in the analysis of synthetic data representing electronic quantum matter (EQM)6-16, the next challenge is to apply this approach to experimental data–for example, to the arrays of complex electronic-structure images17 obtained from atomic-scale visualization of EQM. Here we report the development and training of a suite of artificial neural networks (ANNs) designed to recognize different types of order hidden in such EQM image arrays. These ANNs are used to analyse an archive of experimentally derived EQM image arrays from carrier-doped copper oxide Mott insulators. In these noisy and complex data, the ANNs discover the existence of a lattice-commensurate, four-unit-cell periodic, translational-symmetry-breaking EQM state. Further, the ANNs determine that this state is unidirectional, revealing a coincident nematic EQM state. Strong-coupling theories of electronic liquid crystals18,19 are consistent with these observations.
G. C. Ménard, et al., “Isolated pairs of Majorana zero modes in a disordered superconducting lead monolayer”, Nature Communications, vol. 10, p. 2587, 2019. WebsiteAbstract
Majorana zero modes are fractional quantum excitations appearing in pairs, each pair being a building block for quantum computation. Some signatures of Majorana zero modes have been reported at endpoints of one-dimensional systems, which are however required to be extremely clean. An alternative are two-dimensional topological superconductors, such as the Pb/Co/Si(111) system shown recently to be immune to local disorder. Here, we use scanning tunneling spectroscopy to characterize a disordered superconducting monolayer of Pb coupled to underlying Co-Si magnetic islands. We show that pairs of zero modes are stabilized: one zero mode positioned in the middle of the magnetic domain and its partner extended all around the domain. The zero mode pair is remarkably robust, isolated within a hard superconducting gap. Our theoretical scenario supports the protected Majorana nature of this zero mode pair, highlighting the role of magnetic or spin-orbit coupling textures.
S. Brazovskii and Kirova, N., “From chiral anomaly to two-fluid hydrodynamics for electronic vortices”, Annals of Physics, vol. 403, p. 184 - 197, 2019. WebsiteAbstract
Many recent experiments addressed manifestations of electronic crystals, particularly the charge density waves, in nano-junctions, under electric field effect, at high magnetic fields, together with real space visualizations by STM and micro X-ray diffraction. This activity returns the interest to stationary or transient states with static and dynamic topologically nontrivial configurations: electronic vortices as dislocations, instantons as phase slip centers, and ensembles of microscopic solitons. Describing and modeling these states and processes calls for an efficient phenomenological theory which should take into account the degenerate order parameter, various kinds of normal carriers and the electric field. Here we notice that the commonly employed time-depend Ginzburg–Landau approach suffers with violation of the charge conservation law resulting in unphysical generation of particles which is particularly strong for nucleating or moving electronic vortices. We present a consistent theory which exploits the chiral transformations taking into account the principle contribution of the fermionic chiral anomaly to the effective action. The resulting equations clarify partitions of charges, currents and rigidity among subsystems of the condensate and normal carriers. On this basis we perform the numerical modeling of a spontaneously generated coherent sequence of phase slips – the spacetime vortices – serving for the conversion among the injected normal current and the collective one.
R. Bisognin, et al., “Microwave photons emitted by fractionally charged quasiparticles”, Nature Communications, vol. 10, p. 1708, 2019. WebsiteAbstract
Strongly correlated low-dimensional systems can host exotic elementary excitations carrying a fractional charge q and potentially obeying anyonic statistics. In the fractional quantum Hall effect, their fractional charge has been successfully determined owing to low frequency shot noise measurements. However, a universal method for sensing them unambiguously and unraveling their intricate dynamics was still lacking. Here, we demonstrate that this can be achieved by measuring the microwave photons emitted by such excitations when they are transferred through a potential barrier biased with a dc voltage Vdc. We observe that only photons at frequencies f below qVdc/h are emitted. This threshold provides a direct and unambiguous determination of the charge q, and a signature of exclusion statistics. Derived initially within the Luttinger model, this feature is also predicted by universal non-equilibrium fluctuation relations which agree fully with our measurements. Our work paves the way for further exploration of anyonic statistics using microwave measurements.
H. H. Wensink, “Effect of Size Polydispersity on the Pitch of Nanorod Cholesterics”, Crystals, vol. 9, 2019. WebsiteAbstract
Many nanoparticle-based chiral liquid crystals are composed of polydisperse rod-shaped particles with considerable spread in size or shape, affecting the mesoscale chiral properties in, as yet, unknown ways. Using an algebraic interpretation of Onsager-Straley theory for twisted nematics, we investigate the role of length polydispersity on the pitch of nanorod-based cholesterics with a continuous length polydispersity, and find that polydispersity enhances the twist elastic modulus, K 2 , of the cholesteric material without affecting the effective helical amplitude, K t . In addition, for the infinitely large average aspect ratios considered here, the dependence of the pitch on the overall rod concentration is completely unaffected by polydispersity. For a given concentration, the increase in twist elastic modulus (and reduction of the helical twist) may be up to 50% for strong size polydispersity, irrespective of the shape of the unimodal length distribution. We also demonstrate that the twist reduction is reinforced in bimodal distributions, obtained by doping a polydisperse cholesteric with very long rods. Finally, we identify a subtle, non-monotonic change of the pitch across the isotropic-cholesteric biphasic region.
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