This award supports theoretical research and education aimed to investigate how entanglement, a fundamental concept of quantum mechanics, can be used to advance understanding of quantum mechanical states of many particle systems such as electrons and atoms. The quantum mechanical states of two particles that are well separated in space can be intertwined leading to what appeared to Einstein as "spooky action at a distance." The concept of quantum entanglement is now emerging as a new lens through which to view systems of many, interacting quantum mechanical particles. The novel concept of quantum entanglement entropy allows entanglement to be quantified, and in the past 5-10 years has served as a meeting point at the intersection of several fields, including quantum information science, quantum computing, quantum gravity, cold atomic gases and condensed matter physics. Entanglement entropy can serve as a powerful diagnostic to distinguish different quantum mechanical states. It is proving especially useful in computer simulations of systems of many particle systems. This award supports the PI in his aim to advance the conceptual underpinnings of quantum entanglement, and will explore instances when entanglement might defy the conventional wisdom that temperature "washes away" characteristic signatures of quantum mechanics in the properties of materials - perhaps even in ordinary water. The PI will continue his efforts to bring quantum computing, which seeks to prepare and manipulate quantum mechanical states to perform the logic operations of a computer, to the general public through accessible public lectures.

Technical Abstract

This award supports theoretical research and education aimed to investigate novel collective quantum phenomena and quantum entanglement in three important areas of contemporary quantum condensed matter physics. Increased understanding of many-body entanglement will undoubtedly have impact on continuing efforts to control quantum information in the laboratory. In this project, the PI will focus primarily on three research efforts: 1. Developing and refining a new approach to access novel phases of strongly correlated systems of bosons, spins, and fermions by forming and condensing dyons, bound states of electrical and magnetic charges. 2. Seeking to access and explore the Mott transition, a quantum phase transition between a metal and a Mott insulator. The Mott transition will be approached by using a combination of state-of-the art numerical simulations and theory. 3. Initiating a new effort exploring entanglement of finite energy-density states of many-body quantum systems, focusing on the entanglement embodied in the wavefunction sign structure. Possible new phenomena, that might occur in finite-temperature fluids once quantum effects are fully taken into account, will be explored with possible implications in the context of astrophysics. The PI will continue his efforts to bring quantum computing, exciting materials-related phenomena, and novel states matter to the general public through accessible public lectures.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Daryl Hess
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University of California Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara
United States
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