Topology and the Classification of Matter: New Physics Hidden in Plain Sight
Steve Simon will focus on the recent realization that Landau’s classification, thought to be complete for most of the twentieth century, in fact misses some of the most exciting, yet subtle, physics. The new missing ingredient is naturally cast in the language of the mathematical field of topology, giving rise to a host of what we now call topological states of matter. In particular, we have now realized that fundamentally new types of electronic materials exist --- some of which, in fact, have been hiding under our noses for decades!
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The properties of all forms of matter, from the most mundane to the most exotic kinds produced in advanced laboratories, are consequences of the laws of quantum mechanics. Understanding how macroscopic behaviour emerges from microscopic laws in a system of many particles is one of the intellectually most demanding, yet most important, challenges of physics, and is the subject of this series of lectures.