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15 December 2021
Prof. Dr. Johannes Knolle - TU Munich
1. Briefly describe your current position, research focus, and your role within MCQST.
I am a Professor at TUM leading the research group “Theory of Quantum Matter and Nanophysics”. We are working on the description of strongly correlated quantum phases and understanding new experimental probes. For example, we have a longstanding interest in Quantum Spin Liquids and explore how to observe quantum number fractionalization. In recent years, our research has expanded to non-equilibrium quantum phenomena; and we are investigating these with new digital and analogue quantum simulators.
2. Why did you choose your field of research/what keeps you motivated?
During my studies, I spent a year abroad and was fortunate to attend a yearlong specialized lecture course on Condensed Matter Theory – I was hooked right away. At the time, I was most fascinated by the BCS theory of superconductivity, which after many decades of unsuccessful theoretical research suddenly appeared and explained the key experimental observations. I knew that I wanted to pursue a PhD in this area. The close connection between theory and experiment has been one of the fascinating aspects ever since. As theorists we like to play with abstract models in order to expand our understanding of what kind of quantum phases could exist in principle. Amazingly, from time to time some of these abstract ideas can be realized in the lab. This is what keeps me motivated – to see our own calculations finding a correspondence in real experimental data.
As theorists we like to play with abstract models in order to expand our understanding of what kind of quantum phases could exist in principle. Amazingly, from time to time some of these abstract ideas can be realized in the lab.
3. Do you have any special/unique holiday traditions?
Each year our Christmas tree at home is truly special. It is decorated with many self-made ornaments, which accumulated over the years. Some of them I created myself when I was a child, like a cherry made from wire, and many new ones have been added by our children. The tree has real candles (and we keep a bucket of water nearby just in case…). We don’t light up the candles every day but when we do, it is always a unique moment.