Thursday, October 11, 2018
4:00 pm

Physics Research Conference

Spotting the elusive Majorana under the microscope
Ali Yazdani, Class of 1909 Professor of Physics and Director, Princeton Center for Complex Materials, Princeton University

Ettore Majorana famously considered that there may be fermions in nature that are their own antiparticle — and then he mysteriously disappeared just after proposing the idea in 1938. In recent years, following pioneering theoretical work of Kitaev and others, we have learned how to engineer materials that harbor quasiparticles that behave similar to fermions Majorana had envisioned. In particular, there has been a focus on one-dimensional topological superconductor that harbor Majorana zero modes (MZM) that can potentially be used to make fault-tolerant topological quantum computation possible. Recently, we have proposed and implemented a platform for realization of topological superconductivity and MZM in chains of magnetic atoms on the surface of a superconductor [1,2]. In this talk, I will describe this platform and the series of experiments we have performed to establish the presence of these exotic quasi-particle using spectroscopic mapping with the STM. [2-4] These include study of the unique spin signature of MZM.[4] Finally, if there is time I will our most recent work on realization of MZM in a platform based on chiral quantum spin Hall edge states. Overall these experiments, illustrate how the power of spectroscopic imaging can be used to visualize novel quantum states of matter and their exotic quasi-particles.

[1] S. Nadj-Perge et al. PRB 88, 020407 (2013).
[2] S. Nadj-Perge et al. Science 346, 6209 (2014).
[3] B. E. Feldman et al. Nature Physics 13, 286 (2016).
[4] S. Jeon et al. Science 358, 772 (2017).

Contact Sheri Stoll sstoll@caltech.edu at 395-6608
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