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Physics Colloquia 293 (10/12/18)

October 12, 2018 - 10:30am

Vincenzo Vitelli, University of Chicago


Topological quantum and classical materials can exhibit robust properties that are protected against disorder, for example for non-interacting particles and linear waves. In this colloquium, we review recent theoretical and experimental studies of topologically protected sound waves in mechanical metamaterials and active matter. Next, we demonstrate how to construct topologically protected states that arise from the combination of strong interactions and thermal fluctuations inherent to soft matter. Specifically, we consider fluctuating lines under tension (e.g. polymeric systems), subject to a class of spatially modulated substrate potentials. At equilibrium, the lines acquire a collective tilt proportional to an integer topological invariant called the Chern number. These results point to a new class of classical topological phenomena in which the topological signature manifests itself in an equilibrium structural property rather than a transport measurement. 

Flyer File: vitelli_vincenzo_physics_flyer.pdf