Universiteit Leiden

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Research programme

Quantum Matter and Optics

Research groups in the Quantum Matter & Optics programme investigate electronic properties of matter and light-matter interactions with emphasis on quantum information.

Jan Aarts

Groups in Quantum Matter & Optics conduct experiments which probe the quantum properties of electron systems, and interactions between light and quantum objects. Also the quantum measurement problem is being addressed. Much of the experimentation is performed at low temperatures and with the application of magnetic fields as an extra parameter to elucidate the response of the system under investigation.

Within our ‘Quantum Matter’ program we have a strong interest in systems in which the interaction between electrons determines their fundamental properties. Of particular interest are so-called Mott-systems, where the interactions (dominantly repulsive but not only so) strongly depends on the carrier concentration, which can be varied by doping or electric-field gating. Superconductivity and magnetism are among the phenomena under investigation. We also study 2D metals, such as graphene and van der Waals materials.

Within our ‘Quantum Optics’ program we study the quantum aspect of light and matter. Our aim is to find striking differences between scenarios where light consists of single photons and where light interacts with a single quantum object. Our experiments give insight into the quantum world, including entanglement and the quantum measurement problem: in the process of measurement or observation, nature makes a decision, meaning that the measurement influences the quantum object under investigation. We are investigating how this ‘decision-making’ takes place exactly and how quantum mechanics should be applied to macroscopic objects.

The overarching aim of the program is to further our understanding of materials and light on the most fundamental level. To be groundbreaking, we keep to a strong tradition of designing our own measurement techniques, following in the footsteps of Leiden Nobel Prize winner Heike Kamerlingh Onnes. In the long run, our research may result in developments in superconducting computing, quantum computing and high-temperature superconductivity. But also to developing new chemical or light sensors or improved imaging techniques, for example by introducing MRI with higher resolution.

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