Cosmology under a microscope: Watching the growth of topological defects across a quantum phase transition

Speaker: 
Cheng Chin (University of Chicago)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2016-11-10 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Fei Zhou
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Our recent research tests an intriguing conjecture first proposed by T. Kibble in 1976 on the emergence of cosmic domains  in the early universe. In 1985, W. Zurek popularized this idea in the condensed matter community that the same mechanism generates topological defects form when a many-body system transpasses a symmetry breaking phase transition.

While cosmologists are still searching for the evidence of Kibble-Zurek mechanism, we saw it happening in a sample of atomic Bose-Einstein condensate! Driving the atoms across a quantum phase transition that breaks the Z2 parity symmetry, we observe the formation of superfluid domains. The newborns are vibrant and highly correlated. Furthermore they display a universal space-time scaling symmetry that can be directly compared with various theoretical models. 

 

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