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Physics Top Ten for 2016

ICTP co-author among Physics World’s Top 10 Breakthroughs

16/12/2016 - Trieste

Research to which an ICTP scientist contributed has been chosen by Physics World magazine as one of the top ten physics breakthroughs of the year for 2016.

ICTP scientist Marcello Dalmonte, the Ludwig Boltzmann Senior Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre’s Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics section, co-authored a paper with his colleagues at the University of Innsbruck, on “Real-time dynamics of lattice gauge theories with a few-qubit quantum computer”. The paper, which was published in Nature in June 2016 (doi:10.1038/nature18318), describes a digital quantum simulation of a gauge theory, simulating the emergence of particle-antiparticle pairs using trapped ions as quantum hardware. Quantum computing represents a promising way for scientists to go beyond the power of high performance computing to simulate particle interactions, by exploiting the peculiar rules of quantum mechanics to process information in ways that are impossible on a standard computer. This combined theory/experiment effort represents the first demonstration of a key building block in this direction, paving the way towards the observation of particle physics phenomena in atomic quantum simulation experiments.

Dalmonte started his fellowship at ICTP in September 2016, after three years as a senior scientist at the University of Innsbruck, where he was actively involved in developing the theoretical background for the realization of particle physics phenomena in atomic physics laboratories. He earned his PhD in 2011 at the University of Bologna working on low-dimensional quantum systems.

A panel of Physics World editors and reporters choose the top physics breakthroughs for its annual list; their judging criteria include the fundamental importance of the research, and whether the research represents a significant advance in knowledge. They also look for research that has a strong connection between theory and experiment, and is of general interest to all physicists.