Prange Prize Physics Lecture
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
1412 Toll Physics Bldg.
301 405 5944
Richard E. Prange Prize and Lectureship in Condensed Matter Theory and Related Areas
Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Physics
University of Pennsylvania
The Emergence of Topological Quantum Matter
Matter can arrange itself in the most ingenious ways. In addition to the solid, liquid and gas phases that are familiar in classical physics, electronic phases of matter with both useful and exotic properties are made possible by quantum mechanics. In the last century, the thorough understanding of the simplest quantum electronic phase - the electrical insulator - enabled the development of the semiconductor technology that is ubiquitous in today's information age. In the present century, new "topological" electronic phases are being discovered that allow the seemingly impossible to occur: indivisible objects, like an electron or a quantum bit of information, can be split into two, allowing mysterious features of quantum mechanics to be harnessed for future technologies. Our understanding of topological phases builds on deep ideas in mathematics. We will try to convey that they are as beautiful as they are fundamental.
Charles Kane is an eminent theoretical physicist whose groundbreaking work on topological insulators—materials with a special kind of electrical conduction on their surface—has initiated a new field in condensed matter physics and garnered external recognition at the highest levels. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and he has received numerous awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Dirac Prize of the International Center for Theoretical Physics, the Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society and the Physics Frontiers Prize of the Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation. In addition to his research, Kane has taught physics courses at all levels, ranging from topics in quantum condensed matter for advanced graduate students to introductory honors electromagnetism for freshmen, for which he received the University of Pennsylvania's Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.
3:30 p.m. – Refreshments
4 p.m. – Lecture
Room 1412, John S. Toll Physics Building