Quantum phase transition in a resonant level coupled to interacting leads.


A Luttinger liquid is an interacting one-dimensional electronic system, quite distinct from the 'conventional' Fermi liquids formed by interacting electrons in two and three dimensions. Some of the most striking properties of Luttinger liquids are revealed in the process of electron tunnelling. For example, as a function of the applied bias voltage or temperature, the tunnelling current exhibits a non-trivial power-law suppression. (There is no such suppression in a conventional Fermi liquid.) Here, using a carbon nanotube connected to resistive leads, we create a system that emulates tunnelling in a Luttinger liquid, by controlling the interaction of the tunnelling electron with its environment. We further replace a single tunnelling barrier with a double-barrier, resonant-level structure and investigate resonant tunnelling between Luttinger liquids. At low temperatures, we observe perfect transparency of the resonant level embedded in the interacting environment, and the width of the resonance tends to zero. We argue that this behaviour results from many-body physics of interacting electrons, and signals the presence of a quantum phase transition. Given that many parameters, including the interaction strength, can be precisely controlled in our samples, this is an attractive model system for studying quantum critical phenomena in general, with wide-reaching implications for understanding quantum phase transitions in more complex systems, such as cold atoms and strongly correlated bulk materials.





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Publication Info

Mebrahtu, Henok T, Ivan V Borzenets, Dong E Liu, Huaixiu Zheng, Yuriy V Bomze, Alex I Smirnov, Harold U Baranger, Gleb Finkelstein, et al. (2012). Quantum phase transition in a resonant level coupled to interacting leads. Nature, 488(7409). pp. 61–64. 10.1038/nature11265 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19622.

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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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