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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.
J. del Valle, et al., “Subthreshold firing in Mott nanodevices”, Nature, vol. 569, p. 388-392, 2019. WebsiteAbstract
Resistive switching, a phenomenon in which the resistance of a device can be modified by applying an electric field1-5, is at the core of emerging technologies such as neuromorphic computing and resistive memories6-9. Among the different types of resistive switching, threshold firing10-14 is one of the most promising, as it may enable the implementation of artificial spiking neurons7,13,14. Threshold firing is observed in Mott insulators featuring an insulator-to-metal transition15,16, which can be triggered by applying an external voltage: the material becomes conducting ('fires') if a threshold voltage is exceeded7,10-12. The dynamics of this induced transition have been thoroughly studied, and its underlying mechanism and characteristic time are well documented10,12,17,18. By contrast, there is little knowledge regarding the opposite transition: the process by which the system returns to the insulating state after the voltage is removed. Here we show that Mott nanodevices retain a memory of previous resistive switching events long after the insulating resistance has recovered. We demonstrate that, although the device returns to its insulating state within 50 to 150?nanoseconds, it is possible to re-trigger the insulator-to-metal transition by using subthreshold voltages for a much longer time (up to several milliseconds). We find that the intrinsic metastability of first-order phase transitions is the origin of this phenomenon, and so it is potentially present in all Mott systems. This effect constitutes a new type of volatile memory in Mott-based devices, with potential applications in resistive memories, solid-state frequency discriminators and neuromorphic circuits.
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.
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