Symmetry, Topology and Electronic Phases of Matter

  • Speaker
  • Charles Kane
Date & Time


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Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
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Symmetry and topology are two of the conceptual pillars that underlie our understanding of matter. While both ideas are old, over the last several years a new appreciation of their interplay has led to dramatic progress in our understanding of topological electronic phases. A paradigm that has emerged is that insulating electronic states with an energy gap fall into distinct topological classes. Interfaces between different topological phases exhibit gapless conducting states that are protected and impossible to remove.

In this talk, Charles Kane will discuss the application of this idea to the quantum Hall effect, topological insulators, topological semimetals and topological superconductors. The latter case has led to the quest for observing Majorana fermions in condensed matter, which opens the door to proposals for topological quantum computation. He will close by surveying the frontier of topological phases in the presence of strong interactions.

About the Speaker

Charles Kane is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago in 1985 and a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. in 1989. After a postdoctoral appointment at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, he joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. Kane is a theoretical condensed matter physicist who is known for his work characterizing quantum electronic states of matter, including quantum Hall states, Luttinger liquids, carbon nanotubes and topological insulators. His recent research focuses on the theory of topological insulators and their generalizations. Kane is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His work on topological insulators has been recognized with several awards, including the Oliver Buckley Prize (2012), the P.A.M. Dirac Medal (2012), the Physics Frontiers Prize (2013) and the Benjamin Franklin Medal (2015).

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