Colloquia 2007

Colloquia 2007

The Supersolid Phase of Matter

Prof. Matthias Troyer
Institute for Theoretical Physics, ETH Zurich

Date
4-5 p.m., Thursday, 24 May, 2007

Location
School of Physics Common Room
Room 64, Old Main Building
The University of New South Wales

Abstract
For nearly half a century the supersolid phase of matter has remained mysterious, not only eluding experimental observation, but also generating a great deal of controversy among theorists. The recent discovery of a non-classical moment of inertia at low temperature in solid Helium-4 [1,2] has stirred much excitement as a possible first observation of a supersolid. I will review the experiments and present our large-scale quantum Monte Carlo simulations [3,4] of supersolid behaviour in Helium crystals. While we find that a perfect quantum crystal of Helium is insulating [3], we also find that crystallographic defects such as grain boundaries can carry superflow [4]. I will finally touch on the question of what is needed to observe a supersolid in a perfect quantum crystal.
[1] E. Kim and M. H.W. Chan, Nature (London) 427, 225 (2004).
[2] E. Kim and M. H.W. Chan, Science 305, 1941 (2004).
[3] M. Boninsegni et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 080401 (2006).
[4] L. Pollet et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 135301 (2007).

The audience is invited to meet the speaker beforehand at 3.45 p.m. over wine and cheese in the Physics Common Room.

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