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Spectroscopic signatures of topological quantum matter

Project Description

The idea that strongly interacting spins in a solid can evade ordering down to zero temperature by forming a quantum spin liquid (QSL) has a long history [1]. QSLs exhibit topological order and a plethora of remarkable quantum phenomena, including long-range entanglement, topological degeneracy, emergent Majorana fermions and gauge fields [2,3]. The control and manipulation of such properties in condensed matter systems holds promise for future quantum technologies [4].

The goal of the project is to address the central challenge currently in the field: How one can diagnose emergent Majorana fermions and gauge fields in real materials? The student will combine large-scale exact diagonalization algorithms and modern statistical sampling methods (based on typicality and thermalisation ideas) with the end goal to extract dynamical response functions that are measured directly in spectroscopic experiments, such as inelastic neutron scattering, Raman scattering and electron spin resonance [5]. The ensuing predictions will be compared to ongoing experiments on available candidate materials (such as a-Li2irO3, NaLi2O3 and a-RuCl3), and will lay the ground for quantitative diagnostics and the broader phenomenology of QSLs.

The PhD student will endeavour into one of the most vibrant fields of condensed matter, acquire expertise in numerical and analytical methods, work on experimentally driven problems, and collaborate with world leading experts. The project is ideal for students with a strong interest in topological phases of matter and large-scale numerical algorithms. A background in condensed matter physics is desirable. The project will be mainly numerical, although analytical skills will be useful.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics.

A relevant Master's degree and / or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Physics.

All students must also meet the minimum English Language requirements:

How to apply

All applications are made online, please select the school/department name under the programme name section and include the quote reference number: PH/IR-Un1/2019

Funding Notes

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. If you do not have funding, you may still apply, however Institutional funding is not guaranteed. Outstanding candidates (UK/EU/International) without funding will be considered for funding opportunities which may become available in the School.


[1] P. W. Anderson, Mat. Res. Bull. 8, 153-160 (1973).
[2] X. G. Wen, Quantum Field Theory of Many-Body Systems. Oxford Univeristy Press (2010).
[3] I. Rousochatzakis, Y. Sizyuk and N. B. Perkins, Nat. Commun. 9, 1575 (2018).
[4] C. Nayak, et al., Rev. Mod. Phys. 80, 1083 (2008)
[5] I. Rousochatzakis, S. Kourtis, J. Knolle, R. Moessner, N. B. Perkins,

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