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.
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.