Observation of majorana quantum critical behaviour in a resonant level coupled to a dissipative environment


A quantum phase transition is an abrupt change between two distinct ground states of a many-body system, driven by an external parameter. In the vicinity of the quantum critical point (QCP) where the transition occurs, a new phase may emerge that is determined by quantum fluctuations and is very different from either phase. In particular, a conducting system may exhibit non-Fermi-liquid behaviour. Although this scenario is well established theoretically, controllable experimental realizations are rare. Here, we experimentally investigate the nature of the QCP in a simple nanoscale system - a spin-polarized resonant level coupled to dissipative contacts. We fine-tune the system to the QCP, realized exactly on-resonance and when the coupling between the level and the two contacts is symmetric. Several anomalous transport scaling laws are demonstrated, including a striking non-Fermi-liquid scattering rate at the QCP, indicating fractionalization of the resonant level into two Majorana quasiparticles. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited.






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Publication Info

Mebrahtu, HT, IV Borzenets, H Zheng, YV Bomze, AI Smirnov, S Florens, HU Baranger, G Finkelstein, et al. (2013). Observation of majorana quantum critical behaviour in a resonant level coupled to a dissipative environment. Nature Physics, 9(11). pp. 732–737. 10.1038/nphys2735 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19621.

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Harold U. Baranger

Professor of Physics

The broad focus of Prof. Baranger's group is quantum open systems at the nanoscale, particularly the generation of correlation between particles in such systems. Fundamental interest in nanophysics-- the physics of small, nanometer scale, bits of solid-- stems from the ability to control and probe systems on length scales larger than atoms but small enough that the averaging inherent in bulk properties has not yet occurred. Using this ability, entirely unanticipated phenomena can be uncovered on the one hand, and the microscopic basis of bulk phenomena can be probed on the other. Additional interest comes from the many links between nanophysics and nanotechnology. Within this thematic area, our work ranges from projects trying to nail down realistic behavior in well-characterized systems, to more speculative projects reaching beyond regimes investigated experimentally to date.

Correlations between particles are a central issue in many areas of condensed matter physics, from emergent many-body phenomena in complex materials, to strong matter-light interactions in quantum information contexts, to transport properties of single molecules. Such correlations, for either electrons or bosons (photons, plasmons, phonons,…), underlie key phenomena in nanostructures. Using the exquisite control of nanostructures now possible, experimentalists will be able to engineer correlations in nanosystems in the near future. Of particular interest are cases in which one can tune the competition between different types of correlation, or in which correlation can be tunably enhanced or suppressed by other effects (such as confinement or interference), potentially causing a quantum phase transition-- a sudden, qualitative change in the correlations in the system.

My recent work has addressed correlations in both electronic systems (quantum wires and dots) and photonic systems (photon waveguides). We have focused on 3 different systems: (1) qubits coupled to a photonic waveguide, (2) quantum dots in a dissipative environment, and (3) interfaces between graphene and a superconductor, particularly when graphene is in the quantum Hall state. The methods used are both analytical and numerical, and are closely linked to experiments.


Gleb Finkelstein

Professor of Physics

Gleb Finkelstein is an experimentalist interested in physics of quantum nanostructures, such as Josephson junctions and quantum dots made of carbon nanotubes, graphene, and topological materials. These objects reveal a variety of interesting electronic properties that may form a basis for future quantum devices.

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