An article by Alyssa Lafaro featuring Prof. Drut’s research was published in UNC’s Endeavors magazine. The article describes the kind of work done by Drut’s group as they develop and apply computational methods to quantum many-body problem.
In their work, Drut’s group focuses the quantum many-body physics of ultracold atoms as a proxy to the more complicated quantum many-body problem that appears in materials science, condensed matter, and nuclear physics. Ultracold atoms are dilute gases of neutral particles that interact via simple short-range interactions, and are therefore an ideal playground for the development of new methods. However, these systems are interesting per se: experimentalists have shown they can realize an extremely large number of physical situations, featuring thermodynamics, phase transitions, and non-equilibrium phenomena that are among the most challenging to understand on the theory side due largely to the difficulty in calculating them.
To meet that challenge, Drut’s group works on developing novel computational approaches, often borrowing from other areas such lattice field theory (the computational way to look at quarks and gluons) and quantum chemistry. Rather than going into those details, however, the article by LaFaro presents an easy-to-read overview of the potential implications of Drut’s research, touching upon the nature of theoretical physics and basic science, and drawing curious connections with dating websites, language, and life beyond Earth.