Scientific Seminar on Atomic Collapse in Graphene

December 10, 2014. 17:05. Auditorium 113, Main Building.

MIPT Interdisciplinary Center of Fundamental Research Scientific Seminar: Atomic Collapse in Graphene

Speaker: Professor Leonid Levitov, MIT

Leonid Levitovisa globally renowned theoretical physicist and expert in condensed matter physics. A graduate of MIPT’s Department of Theoretical Physics, Levitov has authored more than 150 works. He is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Physics.


Over the past 10 years, graphene has become an important research tool, allowing scientists to explore the unusual properties of relativistic quantum particles. Many interesting quantum-relativistic effects, such as Klein tunneling and the half-integer quantum Hall effect, have become available for experimental study with the recent discovery of graphene. We will discuss a new development in this area-atomic collapse, which is the spontaneous creation of electron-positron pairs in strong electric fields near super heavy nuclei. Atomic collapse manifests itself mathematically by the appearance of quasi-stationary solutions for the Dirac equation, which have complex energies and describe fast-disintegrating states. This phenomenon was long unavailable for study because the charge of even the heaviest of artificial nuclei is smaller than the threshold value. In graphene, the collapse threshold is much lower, making it possible to observe this phenomenon using low-temperature physics. We will discuss in detail the symmetry of the collapse caused by anomalous scaling invariance, as well as the first observation of this phenomenon near charged impurities on the surface of graphene captured by scanning tunneling microscopy in 2013.

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