Visualizing Quantum Matter



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PIRSA Number: 
15010080

Abstract

Everything around us, everything each of us has ever experienced, and virtually everything underpinning our technological society and economy is governed by quantum mechanics. Yet this most fundamental physical theory of nature often feels as if it is a set of somewhat eerie and counterintuitive ideas of no direct relevance to our lives. Why is this? One reason is that we cannot perceive the strangeness (and astonishing beauty) of the quantum mechanical phenomena all around us by using our own senses. I will describe the recent development of techniques that allow us to image electronic quantum matter directly at the atomic scale. As examples, we will visually explore the previously unseen and very beautiful forms of quantum matter making up electronic liquid crystals [1,2]; hybridized heavy-fermions [3,4]; topological-insulator surface states [5]; and high temperature superconductors [6,7]. We will discuss the implications for fundamental research, and also for advanced materials and new technologies, arising from the development and application of these novel techniques .