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New directions in the pursuit of Majorana fermions in solid state systems

Alicea, Jason (2012) New directions in the pursuit of Majorana fermions in solid state systems. Reports on Progress in Physics, 75 (7). Art. No. 076501. ISSN 0034-4885.

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The 1937 theoretical discovery of Majorana fermions—whose defining property is that they are their own anti-particles—has since impacted diverse problems ranging from neutrino physics and dark matter searches to the fractional quantum Hall effect and superconductivity. Despite this long history the unambiguous observation of Majorana fermions nevertheless remains an outstanding goal. This review paper highlights recent advances in the condensed matter search for Majorana that have led many in the field to believe that this quest may soon bear fruit. We begin by introducing in some detail exotic 'topological' one- and two-dimensional superconductors that support Majorana fermions at their boundaries and at vortices. We then turn to one of the key insights that arose during the past few years; namely, that it is possible to 'engineer' such exotic superconductors in the laboratory by forming appropriate heterostructures with ordinary s-wave superconductors. Numerous proposals of this type are discussed, based on diverse materials such as topological insulators, conventional semiconductors, ferromagnetic metals and many others. The all-important question of how one experimentally detects Majorana fermions in these setups is then addressed. We focus on three classes of measurements that provide smoking-gun Majorana signatures: tunneling, Josephson effects and interferometry. Finally, we discuss the most remarkable properties of condensed matter Majorana fermions—the non-Abelian exchange statistics that they generate and their associated potential for quantum computation.

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Alicea, Jason0000-0001-9979-3423
Additional Information:© 2012 IOP Publishing. Received 14 February 2012, in final form 10 May 2012. Published 28 June 2012. This article was invited by P Coleman. I would like to first acknowledge all of my collaborators on the subject of Majorana fermions, especially Anton Akhmerov, David Clarke, Lukasz Fidkowski, Matthew Fisher, Bert Halperin, Liang Jiang, Takuya Kitagawa, Shu-Ping Lee, Netanel Lindner, Roman Lutchyn, Yuval Oreg, David Pekker, Gil Refael, Alessandro Romito, Kirill Shtengel, Oleg Starykh, Ady Stern, Miles Stoudenmire and Felix von Oppen. I have also benefited enormously from interactions with Doron Bergman, Parsa Bonderson, Sankar Das Sarma, Jim Eisenstein, Marcel Franz, Michael Freedman, Erik Henriksen, Leo Kouwenhoven, Patrick Lee, Charlie Marcus, Lesik Motrunich, Morgan Page, Andrew Potter, Xiaoliang Qi, Sri Raghu, Nick Read, Jay Sau, Ari Turner and Amir Yacoby. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation through grant DMR-1055522.
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Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200225-123400150
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Official Citation:Jason Alicea 2012 Rep. Prog. Phys. 75 076501
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:101546
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:26 Feb 2020 16:32
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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