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"Exploring Flatland with Cold Atoms"

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In his world-famous novel “Flatland” published in 1884, the English writer Edwin Abbott imagined a social life in a two-dimensional world. With a very original use of geometrical notions, E. Abbott produced a unique satire of his own society. Long after Abbott’s visionary allegory, microscopic physics has provided a practical path for the exploration of low-dimensional worlds. With the realization of quantum wells for example, it has been possible to produce two-dimensional gases of electrons. The properties of these fluids dramatically differ from the standard three-dimensional case, and some of them are still lacking a full understanding.

During the last decade, a novel environment has been developed for the study of low-dimensional phenomena. It consists of cold atomic gases that are confined in tailor-made electromagnetic traps. With these gases, one hopes to simulate and understand more complex condensed-matter systems. The talk will discuss some aspects of this research, both from an experimental and a theoretical perspective. Connections with other domains of 2D many-body physics, such as the Quantum Hall effect, will also be addressed.

This talk is part of the Cavendish Physical Society series.

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