Visualizing Quantum Matter

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Everything around us — everything each of us has ever experienced and virtually everything underpinning our technological society and economy — is governed by quantum mechanics. Yet this most fundamental physical theory of nature often feels like a set of somewhat eerie and counterintuitive ideas of no direct relevance to our lives. Why is this? One reason is that we cannot perceive the strangeness (and astonishing beauty) of the quantum mechanical phenomena all around us by using our own senses.

Dr. Davis will describe the recent development of techniques that allow the imaging of electronic quantum phenomena directly at the atomic scale. As examples, he will visually explore the previously unseen and very beautiful forms of quantum matter making up electronic liquid crystals [1,2] and high-temperature superconductors [3,4] and find that they are closely relayed. The implications for fundamental physics research, and also for advanced materials and new technologies, arising from development and application of these quantum matter visualization techniques will be discussed.

[1] Science 315, 1380 (2007)
[2] Science 327, 181 (2010)
[3] Science 336, 563 (2012)
[4] Science 344, 612 (2014)

About the Speaker

J.C. Séamus Davis is the J.G. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell University; he is also the SUPA Distinguished Research Professor of Physics at St. Andrews University, Scotland, and a senior physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. Between 2009 and 2014 he was the Director of the Center for Emergent Superconductivity, an Energy Frontier Research Center of the U.S. Department of Energy. Davis’ active research is focused upon macroscopic quantum physics of emergent quantum matter, including studies of superconductors, superfluids, supersolids, spin liquids, monopole liquids and heavy fermions. Davis has been the recipient of the the Outstanding Performance Award of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2001), the Science and Technology Award of Brookhaven National Laboratory (2013), the Fritz London Memorial Prize (2005), and the H. Kamerlingh-Onnes Memorial Prize (2009). Davis is a fellow of the Institute of Physics (U.K.), the American Physical Society (U.S.), and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

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