Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


QUIC Report Summary

Project ID: 641122
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.2.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - QUIC (Quantum simulations of insulators and conductors)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

It is now accepted that the conducting or insulating nature of matter is based on various separate ingredients (e.g. disorder, interactions, band filling, dimensionality, topology, etc.). However, their complex interplay is still beyond our understanding because experiments are very difficult and numerical calculations are often inefficient, even for supercomputers.

In QUIC we want to achieve a breakthrough in the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms governing insulators and conductors by using quantum simulators, i.e. quantum computers of special purpose, based
on fully controllable ultracold gases. In an experiment-theory enterprise, we will engineer several different kinds of such synthetic quantum matter, where we can isolate and study quantitatively the quantum phenomena and phases.

We will not only study the physics of real systems, such as disordered and strongly-correlated superconductors andsuperfluids, but we will also create systems that do not exist so far in nature, such as topological phases in graphene-like
lattices. QUIC combines for the first time advanced manipulation techniques of ultracold atomic gases, innovative theoretical ideas of condensed-matter physics and quantum-information methods. The immediate goals of our project are to understand quantitatively the subtle interplay of quantum phenomena in insulators and conductors, explore new promising directions for the engineering of transport in real materials, and lay the foundations for the design of the quantum materials of tomorrow.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The goal of QUIC is the quantitative understanding of a series of fundamental phenomena that determine the properties of conducting and isulating materials. In the following we present a few examples of our current achievements.

- We have studied Anderson localization of non interacting particles in 3D disorder. For the first time we have measured using our quantum simulators key properties such as the spectral function and the mobility edge. We have developed various theoretical models and methods for the study of Anderson localization in other physical systems or in the time domain. Our goal is to characterize completely the non-interacting Anderson localization phenomenon in order to attack the even more challenging phenomenon of localization of interacting particles in disorder.

- We are studying quantum transport in low dimensions with both fermionic particles, in an electronic device-like structure. We are simulating the quantum phases of bosonic particles on a lattice, with controllable disorder and interactions. These quantum simulations are allowing us to explore in an unprecedented way the impact of interactions and disorder on the conductance and on the quantum phases in existing and future materials.

- We are exploring topological phenomena in graphene-like structures realized with ultracold atoms. we are trying to go even beyond celebrated models of condensed-matter physics, such as the Haldane model, to explore the still unknwon effect of interactions on topology. One goal is to explore the realization of new types of topologica insulators.

- We are progressing towards the realization of exotic phases of matter using innovative methods in theory and experiments: strongly-correlated quantum phases, superstripes phases, Majorana fermions.

Given the current progresses, we are optimistic about the long term goal of QUIC, which is to contribute laying the foundations for the design of the quantum materials of tomorrow.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The immediate general goals of QUIC are: to quantitatively understand how the complex interplay of disorder, interactions, band filling, topology and dimensionality leads to the formation of insulators or determines the properties of conductors; to design theoretically and simulate in experiments new types of insulators/conductors that do not exist yet, based on those ingredients; to explore at a theoretical level new quantum insulators and conductors with special properties and applications, and design the schemes for their experimental simulation.

In QUIC we have selected a number of key phenomena and systems to study. The simulations we propose are challenging, though realizable, and have never been attempted before. We expect that QUIC will allow us to understand these phenomena, pushing forward the knowledge on the fundamental mechanisms for transport (or its absence) in materials and generating ideas for novel tailored materials. This will however not be the only outcome, since the success of QUIC at the same time will improve our capabilities of controlling and manipulating the atomic quantum systems, naturally leading to new ideas for simulating fundamental physical phenomena in quantum matter.

Our long term vision is that a systematic employment of quantum simulators of this kind will lead to a new quantum revolution, where quantum computers become a reality for the design of the quantum materials of tomorrow. When this happens, the present discipline of computational design of new materials will transform into a quantum computational discipline. At that moment, the still unrealized promise of universal quantum computers will have finally become true, at least for applications to fundamental science.

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