The study of topological phases is one of the most important subjects in physics in the past decade. The first topological phases discovered were quantum Hall states which emerge when a two-dimensional electron gas comes under a strong magnetic field. In the quantum Hall state, a two-dimensional electron gas becomes insulating in the bulk but there are dissipationless channels on the edges to conduct electricity. In the past decade, many new topological phases such as quantum anomalous states, topological insulators and Weyl semimetals have been discovered. Due to the novel electronic transport properties of these materials, topological phases have great potential applications in electronic devices.
Above all, it has been well understood theoretically that topological superconductors possess a special type of excitations called Majorana modes. These Majorana modes obey exotic non-Abelian statistics and have important applications in making quantum computers which are immune to the decoherence effects of the environment. However, experimentalists are still trying to realize these important predictions. Successful observation of the non-Abelian properties of Majorana modes will be one of the most important discoveries in condensed matter physics. Corporations such as Microsoft and Google have been setting up research institutes on the study of topological superconductors and their applications in topological quantum computation.
Background of this Conference
As the study of topological phases is such an important topic, this conference gathers some of the leading researchers in this area from all over the world to Hong Kong to share insights so that Hong Kong researchers and researchers in the Asia Pacific areas can benefit from the talks and discussions.
With the generous support of the Croucher Foundation and IAS-HKUST, the first IAS-Croucher Conference on Topological Phases was organized in 2015. Due to the rapid development in the area of topological quantum computation, this year, the two-day Croucher and IAS conference to be held at IAS-HKUST will include more speakers, with topics focusing on topological quantum computation.