Jason Alicea

Jason Alicea

I am a condensed matter theorist interested in revealing exotic phenomena that emerge from the interplay between topology and quantum mechanics.

The vast sea of electrons residing in materials often exhibits fascinating collective behavior that sharply defies intuition based on our understanding of the individual microscopic constituents. 'Topological' phases of matter, wherein the electrons become in some sense knotted up, provide spectacular examples featuring many remarkable properties. Perhaps most notably, some topological phases can effectively give birth to new kinds of particles (dubbed anyons) that behave like electrons fragmented into smaller pieces--despite the indivisibility of single electrons! Anyons are not only interesting for fundamental reasons: they can in principle also allow us to build inherently fault-tolerant quantum computing hardware to solve one of the great outstanding technological challenges in physics.

As a condensed matter theorist, one of my main interests involves bringing these kinds of exotic theoretical notions closer to experimental reality. I am continually inspired by the idea that we needn't get lucky in this quest. Rather, one can constructively piece together well-understood components to design blueprints for topological phases supporting various kinds of anyons. Much of my work also aims to devise new detection and manipulation protocols in these designer architectures. In essence the goal is to 'out-engineer nature', both to approach quantum information applications and to reveal new facets of quantum mechanics never before perceived in the laboratory.


Publications can be found here.


  • 123 Bridge Annex, MC 149-33
  • tel: (626) 395-2934
  • aliceaj[at]caltech.edu