Duncan Haldane was Professor of Physics at UCSD from 1987 to 1990, during which time he did the research that resulted in the groundbreaking paper "Model for a Quantum Hall Effect without Landau Levels", Physical Review Letters Vol. 61, p. 2015 (1988). The paper provided deep new insights into the role of topology in condensed matter, in particular leading to the recent discovery of a new class of quantum materials, "topological insulators". This paper, together with Haldane's pioneering work in the early 80's on topological properties of quantum spin chains, were cited by the Nobel committee in awarding him the prize. He was born in London in 1951 and studied at Cambridge University and Princeton, worked at the Institut Laue-Langevin, USC and Bell Laboratories before coming to UCSD, and has been on the Princeton physics faculty since 1991. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a recipient of the Oliver Buckley Prize for Condensed Matter Physics of the American Physical Society, and the Dirac Medal of the International Center for Theoretical Physics.
One of the surprising features predicted by quantum mechanics is what is called “entanglement” between objects in different places, which Albert Einstein famously called “spooky action at a distance”, and felt was so contrary to common sense (and incompatible with his theory of gravity) that the attempt to demonstrate it experimentally would surely show that the quantum theory was not correct. But when it eventually become possible to test it experimentally , quantum mechanics completely passed! In recent years, it has become apparent that, while Einstein’s opposition to the quantum theory was wrong, the property of “entanglement” that he identified as a prediction of the quantum theory is not just a curiosity that philosophers can debate, but perhaps its central ingredient. It lies at the heart of the recent discoveries of “topological quantum matter” and is now viewed as the “resource” or fuel that could drive future powerful “quantum computers”. Einstein felt the introduction of the “cosmological constant” in his theory of gravity was his “biggest mistake”, but today it seems likely that it is related to the recently-discovered “dark energy”. If his disbelief in entanglement was his “second biggest mistake”, it, like the first, has been a very fruitful one indeed!
Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 4:00PM
Garren Auditorium - UC San Diego
Refreshments served at 3:30 pm