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Aspen Public Radio is proud to present select lectures, discussions, and conversations from area events and festivals, thanks to a remarkable collection of community partners. Click here to view the full archive. Events are recorded at no cost to the partner and archived here online; select recordings are broadcast on Aspen Public Radio Sunday nights at 7 p.m.

Aspen Center for Physics: Vedika Khemani

Vedika Khemani

This event was recorded on August 23, 2023 at Aspen Center for Physics during the 2023 Heinz R. Pagels Memorial Lecture Series, in partnership with Aspen Public Radio.

In this talk, Prof. Khemani introduces you to the fascinating world of non-equilibrium quantum matter — a field at the heart of the ongoing second quantum revolution. The subject of equilibrium statistical mechanics is a foundational pillar of modern physics. It underpins our understanding of everything ranging from our everyday world of solids, liquids, and gases, to more exotic phenomena such as superconductivity. This is because a "phase of matter" can only emerge from the interactions within a population of billions of particles. It is simply impossible to talk about a single particle as a "solid" or "liquid". However, equally impossible is the ability to keep track of all the individual particles in this huge population. Traditionally, physics addressed this problem by assuming a population in equilibrium, and analyzing the collective statistical properties of the population. The first quantum revolution, which culminated in our modern semiconductor based information age, was fueled by our understanding of phenomena defined by the collective properties of many interacting quantum particles.

We are now at the beginning of a second quantum revolution. This is driven by extraordinary efforts to build quantum devices with exquisite control over individual quantum entities for the generation and manipulation of quantum entanglement. These devices give us controlled access to the non-equilibrium dynamics of quantum systems - indeed, the operation of a quantum algorithm is inherently a dynamical process! In this talk, Prof. Khemani discusses recent progress in advancing our understanding of phase structure beyond the equilibrium setting. In particular, quantum matter out-of-equilibrium can allow for novel phenomena which may be forbidden by the usual rules of statistical mechanics. An example is the recent theoretical discovery of time-crystals, and its experimental realization on Google's quantum computer.


Vedika Khemani is an Assistant Professor of physics at Stanford University. She is a theoretical physicist who works at the interface of quantum information and condensed matter to understand the collective properties of systems of many strongly interacting quantum particles. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2016, and was a Junior Fellow at Harvard from 2016-19. Khemani has received the McMillan Award and the Breakthrough New Horizons in Physics Prize for her work on non-equilibrium quantum dynamics.