Physics Colloquium: Smitha Vishveshwara, "Non-equilibrium quantum dynamics from atomic to cosmic scales"

The City College of the City University of New York
160 Convent Avenue
New York, NY 10031

Physics Department

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM

Where                        Please contact Prof. Ganeshan

Contact Name                         Sriram Ganeshan

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Physics Colloquium


Non-equilibrium quantum dynamics from atomic to cosmic scales 

Smitha Vishveshwara

Physics Department, Grainger College of Engineering
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 


From the cooling of the early universe to quenching in magnets, driving a system through a continuous phase transition results in fascinating non-equilibrium dynamics.  Close to the critical point separating two phases of matter, the intrinsic relaxational timescale diverges and no matter how slow the drive, the system is thrown out of equilibrium to produce defects. I will introduce this phenomenon in its original context of structure formation, equally applicable the early universe and to condensed states of matter, such as liquid Helium, and describe related universal ‘Kibble-Zurek’ physics. I will then explore the tantalizing ways in which the dynamics plays in quantum phases of matter, in particular, quantum magnets and a class of systems that has recently stolen the limelight – topological materials. Finally, I will return to the cosmic realm by drawing parallels between quantum dynamics in topological systems and classical dynamics in black holes.  

Professor Smitha Vishveshwara will be talking about a topic closely related to this year’s Nobel prize in physics.



Professor Smitha Vishveshwara received her bachelor's degree in physics magna cum laude from Cornell University in 1996, and was supervised in undergraduate research by Carl Franck and David Mermin.  She completed her Ph.D in theoretical physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2002 under the guidance of Matthew Fisher. Her graduate research includes the studies of localization physics in superconductors, Luttinger liquids, and quantum entanglement in carbon nanotubes. She served as a postdoctoral research associate with Paul Goldbart and Tony Leggett from 2002 to 2005, working on tunneling and fractional statistics in quantum Hall systems, Aharonov-Bohm effects in carbon nanotubes, entanglement in spin chairs and critical dynamics in charged superconductors. She joined the department as an assistant professor in August 2005.

Professor Vishveshwara's research interests span a broad range of topics in condensed matter physics, and in strongly correlated states of matter at scales where quantum phenomena prevail. She maintains strong collaborative ties with experimentalists with regards to research involving cold atomic systems, carbon nanotubes, superconducting proximity effects and topologically ordered states of matter.