Condensed-Matter Physics & Materials Science Seminar

"Atomic spin chain realization of a model for quantum criticality"

Presented by Rianne van den Berg, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

Thursday, September 17, 2015, 1:30 pm — Bldg 734, 2nd Fl Conference Room

The ability to manipulate single atoms has opened up the door to constructing interesting and useful quantum structures from the ground up. On the one hand, nanoscale arrangements of magnetic atoms are at the heart of future quantum computing and spintronic devices; on the other hand, they can be used as fundamental building blocks for the realization of textbook many-body quantum models, illustrating key concepts such as quantum phase transitions, topological order or frustration. Step-by-step assembly promises an interesting handle on the emergence of quantum collective behavior as one goes from one, to few, to many constituents. To achieve this, one must however maintain the ability to tune and measure local properties as the system size increases. We use low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy to construct arrays of magnetic atoms on a surface, designed to behave like spin-1/2 XXZ Heisenberg chains in a transverse field, for which a quantum phase transition from an antiferromagnetic to a paramagnetic phase is predicted in the thermodynamic limit. Site-resolved measurements on these finite size realizations reveal a number of sudden ground state changes when the field approaches the critical value, each corresponding to a new domain wall entering the chains. We observe that these state crossings become closer for longer chains, indicating the onset of critical behavior. Our results present opportunities for further studies on quantum behavior of many- body systems, as a function of their size and structural complexity.

Hosted by: Robert Konik

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