2018 James Clerk Maxwell Medal and Prize

Dr Hannah Price of the University of Birmingham for her important contributions to the nascent fields of topological atomic and optical physics, including collaboration with world-leading experimental groups in their observation of new effects.

2018 James Clerk Maxwell Medal and Prize

Dr Hannah Price’s contributions fall into three main categories:

New Theoretical Tools for Experimentally Probing Topology:

Dr Price made a theoretical proposal for how to use the semiclassical dynamics of wavepackets to map out Berry curvature, which has since proved to be a valuable approach, inspiring important experiments in cold atoms and in optics. In the latter, she directly collaborated with experimentalists to help them make the first measurement of the Berry curvature of an energy band in an optical system. A key point is that such tools are very different from traditional condensed matter techniques, and they harness the ability of quantum engineered systems to explore phenomena in new ways (for example the ability to map out the Berry curvature).

Going to Higher Dimensions:

Her main contributions here include proposing how to realise the 4D quantum Hall effect in cold atoms and photons by using synthetic dimensions, as well as the recent experimental collaboration that measured the 4D quantum Hall effect with a topological pump. These works are opening up exciting directions, as they bring 4D physics into the lab, making connection with previously abstract theoretical ideas, such as the higher-dimensional quantum Hall effect. They also take advantage of the ability of photonics and cold atoms to add to what can be seen of condensed matter physics in solid-state systems.

New Ways to Engineer Topological Bandstructures:

Engineering nontrivial topological states can be challenging, so finding the best and most useful way to do this is important. Dr Price has contributed to different schemes, such as using synthetic dimensions or modulated pendula. In such ways, she aims to bring topological physics into new systems, and even to harness the protection of topological edge states for applications, such as a tentatively proposed optical isolator.

She keeps a focus on what may be measured, even in her most theoretical papers, and in fostering direct collaboration. This includes collaboration both with fellow theorists and with experimentalists, such as Bloch in Munich, Peschel in Jena and Pavesi in Trento.



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