Quantum Materials Accomplishments
- In order to realize some of the potential applications of quantum materials, program members are working to understand how electrons behave in high-temperature superconductors – just as physicists in the 1940s first had to understand how electrons behave in semiconductors before they could make a transistor.
- CIFAR researchers are renowned for making the world's purest samples of the superconducting quantum material yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO). In 2007, their collaborators in the program who specialize in very high magnetic fields made a major breakthrough with YBCO – they observed “quantum oscillations” in the crystals, providing entirely new insight into the nature of electron behaviour in these oxides. This discovery opens the door to finally understanding what causes high-temperature superconductivity.
- Some members of the Quantum Materials program study the strange quantum behaviour of other materials called cold atoms. Also known as Bose-Einstein Condensates, cold atoms are gases that, below a certain temperature, suddenly interact very strongly. In this state, they are like a superfluid – a fluid that flows without friction. Recognizing their importance and potential, CIFAR has organized a series of Cold Atoms Workshops, where theoretical and experimental experts gather to discuss this exciting class of materials. Cold atoms have implications for making precision measurements, building a quantum computer that uses electrons to process information, and much more.