About the Project
Recent state-of-the-art experiments on a quantum simulator built from strongly-correlated Rydberg atoms [H. Bernien et al., Nature 551, 579 (2017)] have discovered a remarkable dynamical phenomenon that challenged the conventional notion of how quantum systems reach thermal equilibrium. We have recently proposed the first theoretical explanation for this phenomenon and named it "quantum many-body scars" [Nature Physics 14, 745 (2018]. Following the surge of international interest in this topic, including popular articles in the press [see: https://www.quantamagazine.org/quantum- scarring-appears-to- defy-universes-push-for-disorder-20190320/], this project will contribute to the on-going quest to understand the mathematical origins of quantum many-body scars and their unusual dynamical properties. The practical benefits of this research will be new computational techniques for simulating non-ergodic many-body dynamics and phases of matter, and their potential use as a platform for robust quantum technology that could operate at arbitrarily high temperatures.
The initial phase of the project will focus on: (i) learning about quantum dynamics, thermalisation, and related phenomena (integrability, many-body localisation), and (ii) learning how to numerically simulate quantum many-body systems (e.g., using Python, C++, or any preferred language). In particular, you will learn how to apply quantum information concepts to characterise dynamics and thermalisation (e.g., entanglement entropy and spectrum). You will apply all these tools to investigate in the detail the toy model of a 1D Rydberg atom chain, then extend the known results by investigating various physical perturbations to the model.
Desired student background: We seek talented and highly-motivated physics students to pursue this project in the general area of quantum many-body physics, which is at the interface of quantum information and condensed matter physics. The necessary theoretical background will be obtained through the CDT courses within the MRes programme. A significant component of the project is numerical modelling of quantum many-body systems via exact diagonalisation and related techniques (e.g., matrix product states, DMRG, etc.), thus the project is particularly suitable for those with strong interest in computational physics and numerical simulations.
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