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2015 Dirac Lecture presented by Professor Subir Sachdev
Quantum entanglement and superconductivity
Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance.”
Entanglement is a counterintuitive feature of quantum theory by which two particles are deeply correlated even when separated by vast distances, such that a measurement of one particle instantaneously determines the state of the other.
Remarkably, quantum entanglement can also happen en masse, determining the macroscopic properties of many electrons in certain crystals.
Such states of matter can exhibit superconductivity, the ability to conduct electricity without measurable resistance, at much higher temperatures than was previously possible.
I will also describe newly emerging connections between the theory of macroscopic quantum entanglement and Hawking’s theory of black holes.
Subir Sachdev is a condensed matter physicist well known for his research on quantum phase transitions and its application to a variety of quantum materials, such as the high temperature superconductors. His research seeks to illuminate the boundary between the everyday world we live in - in which many but not all phenomena can be explained through classical physics - and the subatomic world of quantum physics. These two worlds come together at a "quantum phase transition”, where there is a change in the macroscopic character of the quantum state describing a many-particle system, and manifestations of quantum entanglement appear naturally at long distances. His book Quantum Phase Transitions (Cambridge University Press, 1999 and 2011) has formed the basis of much subsequent research. More recently he has pioneered application of the remarkable connection between the nature of quantum entanglement near the horizons of black holes, and the entanglement in quantum materials. This has led to new insights on experiments on quantum phase transitions, and on the the “strange metal” state found in many modern materials, including the single layer of carbon atoms known as graphene.
Sachdev was educated in India before attending MIT and Harvard where he obtained his Ph.D. degree in theoretical physics. He held professional positions at Bell Labs (1985–1987) and at Yale University (1987–2005), where he was a Professor of Physics, before returning to Harvard. He also holds a visiting position as the James Clerk Maxwell Chair in Theoretical Physics at the Perimeter Institute. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, fellow of the American Physical Society and has been awarded several honors, among them the Lorentz Chair, Instituut-Lorentz, Leiden University in 2012, and the Salam Distinguished Lecturer at the International Center for Theoretical Physics, Trieste in 2014.
The Dirac Lecture is kindly supported by The Royal Society of New South Wales and The Australian Institute of Physics NSW Branch