As physicists dive deeper into the quantum realm, they uncover an infinitesimally tiny universe made up of an odd and startling assortment of linkages, knots, and windings. Some quantum materials produce magnetic whirls known as skyrmions, which are described as “subatomic storms.” Others exhibit superconductivity that bends into vortices.
A Princeton-led team of physicists revealed that electrons in the quantum matter might relate to one another in odd new ways in a study published in Nature. The research pulls together ideas from three scientific fields—condensed matter physics, topology, and knot theory—in an unanticipated way, generating surprising issues regarding the quantum features of electronic systems.
Topology is a theoretical field of mathematics that analyses geometric qualities that can be distorted but not changed inherently. Researchers have attempted to broaden this field of study to understand better quantum mechanics, such as in the subject of “quantum topology,” which attempts to explain an electron’s state as characterized by a feature known as its wave function.
This new frontier is built on a quantum mechanical structure known as a Weyl loop, which includes the wrapping of massless electron wave functions in a crystal. Exotic behaviors are produced by these massless Weyl loops when electric and magnetic forces are introduced, and these responses remain until the temperature reaches room temperature.
The massless Weyl loops with the chemical formula Co2MnGa were distinct from the wave function winding discussed in traditional topological theories. The Princeton team discovered and realized that certain quantum materials, such as Co2MnGa, might contain multiple Weyl loops simultaneously.
Hasan’s team’s discovery sparked fundamental questions about linked Weyl loops, bringing together a global team of experts in photoemission spectroscopy, mathematical topology, quantum material synthesis, and first-principles quantum calculations to better understand link topology and knotting in quantum matter.
The study team discovered that the existing quantum theory of materials could not fully explain the formation of this arrangement. They noticed that the knot theory could contain some answers. The researchers want to broaden their investigation in other areas. Although Hasan and his colleagues concentrated on the behavior of topological magnets, they believe the theory has the potential to assist explain other quantum phenomena.