Charles E. Kaufman Foundation

2015 New Investigator Grant

Theodore Corcovilos, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Duquesne University

Experimental quantum emulation of two-dimensional topological insulators and Majorana fermions using ultracold atoms


A major challenge in developing practical quantum computers is finding a robust way to store quantum information. A new class of materials called topological insulators could potentially fill this role, but our understanding of them is limited. Prof. Theodore Corcovilos and his undergraduate student researchers at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, address this outstanding problem by probing the fundamental quantum physics of materials. Rather than study these materials directly, their experiment creates analogous artificial materials made from ultracold atoms trapped in a two-dimensional holographic lattice of laser light. Their work breaks new ground by building samples with arbitrary geometries and sharp boundaries. This research will aid in designing electronic devices for quantum computers and other applications with a radically new workflow for discovering and characterizing new materials.

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