Curving the Fabric of Space – Scientists Develop a New Quantum Material

Sculpting Quantum Materials for the Electronics of the Future

Artistic view. Curvature of the space fabric due to the superposition of spin and orbital states at the interface between lanthanum aluminate (LaAlO3) and strontium titanate (SrTiO3). Credit: Xavier Ravinet – UNIGE

An international team, headed by the University of Geneva (UNIGE), has created a quantum material that allows the fabric of the space inhabited by electrons to be curved on demand.

The advent of cutting-edge information and communication technologies presents scientists and industry with new hurdles to overcome. To address these challenges, designing new quantum materials, which derive their remarkable characteristics from the principles of quantum physics, is the most promising approach.

A global collaboration headed by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and featuring researchers from the universities of Salerno, Utrecht, and Delft, has developed a material that allows for the control of electron dynamics by curving the fabric of space in which they evolve. This advancement holds promise for future electronic devices, particularly in the field of optoelectronics. The findings were published in the journal Nature Materials.

The telecommunications of the future will require new, extremely powerful electronic devices. These must be capable of processing electromagnetic signals at unprecedented speeds, in the picosecond range, i.e. one-thousandth of a billionth of a second.

This is unthinkable with current semiconductor materials, such as silicon, which is widely used in the electronic components of our telephones, computers, and game consoles. To achieve this, scientists and industry are focusing on the design of new quantum materials.

Thanks to their unique properties – especially the collective reactions of the electrons that compose them – these quantum materials could be used to capture, manipulate and transmit information-carrying signals (for example photons, in the case of quantum telecommunications) within new electronic devices. Moreover, they can operate in electromagnetic frequency ranges that have not yet been explored and would thus open the way to very high-speed communication systems.

A warp drive

‘‘One of the most fascinating properties of quantum matter is that electrons can evolve in a curved space. The force fields, due to this distortion of the space inhabited by the electrons, generate dynamics totally absent in conventional materials. This is an outstanding application of the principle of quantum superposition,’’ explains Andrea Caviglia, full professor at the Department of Quantum Matter Physics in the Faculty of Science of the UNIGE and last author of the study.

After an initial theoretical study, the international team of researchers from the Universities of Geneva, Salerno, Utrecht, and Delft designed a material in which the curvature of the space fabric is controllable.

‘‘We have designed an interface hosting an extremely thin layer of free electrons. It is sandwiched between strontium titanate and lanthanum aluminate, which are two insulating oxides,’’ says Carmine Ortix, professor at the University of Salerno and coordinator of the theoretical study. This combination allows us to obtain particular electronic geometrical configurations which can be controlled on-demand.

One atom at a time

To achieve this, the research team used an advanced system for fabricating materials on an atomic scale. Using laser pulses, each layer of atoms was stacked one after another. ‘‘This method allowed us to create special combinations of atoms in space that affect the behavior of the material,’’ the researchers detail.

While the prospect of technological use is still far off, this new material opens up new avenues in the exploration of very high-speed electromagnetic signal manipulation. These results can also be used to develop new sensors. The next step for the research team will be to further observe how this material reacts to high electromagnetic frequencies to determine more precisely its potential applications.

Reference: “Designing spin and orbital sources of Berry curvature at oxide interfaces” by Edouard Lesne, Yildiz G. Saglam, Raffaele Battilomo, Maria Teresa Mercaldo, Thierry C. van Thiel, Ulderico Filippozzi, Canio Noce, Mario Cuoco, Gary A. Steele, Carmine Ortix and Andrea D. Caviglia, 16 March 2023, Nature Materials.
DOI: 10.1038/s41563-023-01498-0

21 Comments on "Curving the Fabric of Space – Scientists Develop a New Quantum Material"

  1. David Thomson | April 10, 2023 at 9:03 am | Reply

    Where is the science in this science article? Are there any data and equations that resulted from this “discovery?”

  2. Kevin McDonald | April 10, 2023 at 5:10 pm | Reply

    do these two research efforts align with each other?

    “To achieve this, the research team used an advanced system for fabricating materials on an atomic scale. Using laser pulses, each layer of atoms was stacked one after another. ‘‘This method allowed us to create special combinations of atoms in space that affect the behavior of the material,’’ the researchers detail.”
    MARCH 21, 2023

    Scientists use lasers to recreate ‘twisted’ superconducting material
    Scientists use lasers to recreate ‘twisted’ superconducting material
    Scientists with the University of Chicago and Shanxi University announced…

    Chin’s lab and the Shanxi group had previously designed ways to replicate complicated quantum materials using cooled atoms and lasers in order to make it easier to study—so they thought they could do the same for the twisted bilayer system.
    They took atoms of an element called rubidium, cooled them down, and used lasers to organize them into two lattices, one on top of the other. Then, to help the two lattices interact with each other, the scientists applied microwaves.

    This combination did the trick. The material displays “superfluidity”—a property similar to superconductivity, in which particles can flow through it without being slowed down by friction. Using the system, the researchers observed a new form of superfluid in the atoms, thanks to the ability to adjust the twist angle of the two lattices.

  3. the increasing profusion of advertising on this site is corrupting and disrupting your mission of bringing important scieintific devdelopments to an interested readership. I urge all readers of this magazine to actively boycott the companies advertising on this site and resist buying their products in future. I do. Join me. Also watch out for the Chinese interloper adverising on this site.

    • Bao-hua ZHANG | April 11, 2023 at 8:31 am | Reply

      Please don’t be too extreme. Chinese interloper may bring you progress and knowledge. This is not just a matter to adjust the twist angle of the two lattices. Designing new quantum materials requires deriving their remarkable characteristics from the principles of the topological vortex principle.
      The origin of the asymmetry of matter and antimatter is one of the most challenging problems in particle physics and cosmology. According to the topological vortex field theory,the interaction and balance between topological vortex fields, covering all long-distance and short-range contributions of space-time motion, and is the basis for the formation and evolution of cosmic matter. In the formation and evolution of cosmic matter, matter and antimatter are mainly shown between the topological vortex and its identical twin anti-vortex, not between the high-dimensional space-time matters formed by their interaction. The material hierarchy and its interaction ways are vital for understanding matter and antimatter. It is believed with the improvement of theoretical level and the progress of science and technology, the understanding for matter and antimatter will usher a vast frontiers in physics.

    • Science is not concerned with where an idea comes from. The sole test of the validity of an idea is experiment.

      The man who wrote that on the blackboard was Richard Feynman, whom I would wager contributed more to science than you ever will. I feel comfortable in saying that, without knowing a single thing about you other than what you have contributed here, today. You could be the leader of the most prestigious academic institution in your nation (nothing is left to the imagination as to which one that is) and my statement still stands.

      Your efforts to disrupt the commerce of a FREELY AVAILABLE science news publication and to foment nationalist barriers to the free exchange of ideas is duly noted. If you don’t like it here, I’m going to go way out on a theoretical limb by asserting that you can probably figure out where some other part of the internet (or the universe) is located without me sending you a link to it.

      • Bao-hua ZHANG | April 12, 2023 at 8:18 pm | Reply

        Experiments cannot test everything. Please use an experiment to test this statement. I appreciate your seriousness in science.

  4. Fixed gravity for you. | April 11, 2023 at 8:51 am | Reply

    More spacetime spam masquerading as science from the rulers of the perfect religion of perfect vacuum light speed constancy over all gravities. They’re only slightly off, only by micro-missile-meters, so it’s all safe and okay to follow.

    • Would you say that gravity can be best described as an entropic force which demonstrates macro-level homogeneity but is subject to quantum-level disorder, rather than as an irreducible fundamental interaction?

      If so, how might we describe an experiment under conditions available to us in order to test this hypothesis?

      • Fixed gravity for you. | April 11, 2023 at 4:50 pm | Reply

        “Would you say that gravity can be best described as an entropic force”

        Like a Verlinde follower? I don’t follow anyone on gravity. If anything, I’ll lead.

        Since you asked, gravity is a counter-entropic force. I mean it can sort things and drive clocks more realistically than light, for a couple of nice features. I favor a flat-space gravity with gravity-sensitive vacuum light-speed because it allows energy to be conserved without tricks and it doesn’t slightly exaggerate apparent gravitational effects (compression and falling rate).

        Light doesn’t diffract when gravity bends it, but this is because light has a limited capacity for self-coherence, meaning a threshold degree of bending would need to be exceeded for diffraction in space.

        • Fixed gravity for you. | April 13, 2023 at 2:28 am | Reply

          The cooling material constructive process I’m talking about there has more to so with spherical valence electron orbitals and/or longer-range interactions, in comparison to crystal formations, which are governed by the geometry of non-spherical orbitals p, d, f. Hydrogen atoms in larger/heavier molecules could be especially significant in the process. Cooling matter gravity focus emergence could be described as a Hebbian-type process for building structural bindings.

        • Fixed gravity for you. | April 20, 2023 at 6:09 pm | Reply

          Now I’m seeing news articles about axion dark matter including artist images of light paths weaving around in repeated arcs as big as a galaxy. Eerily like my concept of galactic scale longitudinal roll (“pitch”) in gravity information flows. I’ve been expecting something like that even though the few concrete articles I’ve seen have implied people were building particle detectors for axions.

          So in this latest dark matter news some scientist says he found a lensed galaxy where the axion’s wave effect is clear. Why only the one galaxy – that is of course the first question. Only picture of the galaxy I’ve seen in a related article is a very fuzzy one, which totally figures.

          It seems a part-time theme with axion illustrations has been to show lots of rays spreading from an object, which doesn’t match the artists image of galactic-scale light paths weaving around, but it does have some similarity with the blurry galaxy image. Another theme with axion illustrations is interference band effects carried within structures resembling filaments. The “sharp” effect carrying seemingly blurry galaxy resembles a daisy with wide petals, so there’s a possible match to the radial effects. The scientist believes WIMPs are now ruled out. Didn’t notice which telescope took the blurry image.

      • Fixed gravity for you. | April 11, 2023 at 6:02 pm | Reply

        “how might we describe an experiment under conditions available to us in order to test this hypothesis?”

        I suppose a flow-based model of gravity with some flow carrier elaborations beyond a Gaussian gravity. One elaboration is a capacity for cooling matter to focus its gravity flows and concentrate on nearest consistent neighbors, which I believe is a significant aspect of entanglement, replacing wormholes. Best evidence for cooling matter focus is in the triaxial retroreflector-evoking octahedral shapes of Ryugu and Bennu. Any gain to be obtained by focus in the flow of gravity between cooled objects has counter-entropic (at least entropy-limiting) aspects, as I see it. It has what I’d call pseudo- or proto-intelligent aspects.

        • Fixed gravity for you. | April 13, 2023 at 3:08 am | Reply

          I can’t give you any evidence for entropic gravity, which is what you basically asked for. If you want evidence for flat space and universal conservation of energy versus universal bent-time nonsense, all you need to do is perfectly count and compare “light-clock” photon rates, instead of frequency rates, in different gravities for a sufficiently long time.

          • Fixed gravity for you. | April 13, 2023 at 3:35 am |

            Special relativity should be viewed as simply conserving photon energy in flat space. As soon as gravity variations are introduced into special relativity thought experiments all bets are off and one generates nonsense such an astronautical twin paradox. Einstein credited Maxwell for the idea of constant light speed, but Maxwell was not considering gravity variations or light bending in open space at all.

            Humorous irrelevant incomplete story about Maxwell – he supposed the rings of Saturn remained in place because they are composed of “brickbats.”

          • Fixed gravity for you. | April 15, 2023 at 2:32 am |

            Maybe it should be made clearer at this point that the “conservation of energy” violation at issue with “bent time” required by general relativity has nothing to do with frequency-shifts (wave oscillation rates), but everything to do with consistency in photon counting rates, meaning even after wave frequency carried in each photon is corrected there is still a discrepancy between recorded photon count rates under two different gravities, which defines differences in the spacing between photons. Any discrepancy does not remain constant but can only grow over time. Because the count discrepancy is not constant it’s not something to be cancelled out by distorting matter or space as only photon speed variation under gravity variation removes the discrepancy. Think of photons as flying packets of energy. If a stream of packets has each packet changing speed in the same way along the same path then the steam may arrive at a destination moving at a final speed independent of a packet arrival rate which naturally happens to equal the packet rate at the source.

  5. Fixed gravity for you. | April 11, 2023 at 9:07 am | Reply

    Coming from the perspective of a retired patent examiner, “by curving the fabric of space in which they evolve” adds nothing constructive whatsoever to “a material that allows for the control of electron dynamics.”

    • Fixed gravity for you. | April 11, 2023 at 9:15 am | Reply

      In all fairness, physics publicity often has to tread a line between saying too much thus giving away the discovered “treasure teachings,” and not saying enough to be impressive. In contrast, patent applications can cram all the key decoding phrases somewhere late in a specification, and frequently enough attempt to get as close as possible to having the best of both worlds enjoyed by academic marketing types.

      • Desmond obanor | April 12, 2023 at 12:36 pm | Reply

        I believe the discovery of this quantum material that allows the fabric of the space inhabited by electrons to be curved on demand will be a huge help to the future of technology and i advice the university of geneva to look more into the possibilities and advantage of this quantum material

        • Fixed gravity for you. | April 13, 2023 at 3:17 am | Reply

          Seems it would be infinitely better to explain spatial changes here in terms of, say, phonons, rather than meaningless “bent space fabric” but hey maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’ll just suppose most people deserve to digest empty space fabric.

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