Assistant Professor Anton Akhmerov

Anton Akhmerov is an assistant professor in the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience of Delft University of Technology and QuTech. Anton’s research focuses on topological phenomena in condensed matter. He has invented efficient algorithms for characterising topological insulators, and predicted several mechanisms that allow the creation of topological insulators. He has created a scheme for using manipulating Majorana particles and using them in quantum computation.


His research interests mostly revolve around the field of mesoscopic conductors and superconductors. Very naturally this includes the topics of graphene, topological insulators, and Majorana bound states. He is fascinated by the quantum systems that behave in the most counter-intuitive or unusual ways.

Majorana bound states.

One example of an exotic physical object that is simple to analyse but hard to grasp is Majorana bound states (frequently also called Majorana fermions). Consider a combination of simple ingredients. Take conventional superconductors, known for almost a century, and understood extremely well for half a century. Add a semiconducting quantum wire, a basis of modern electronics, but scaled down; these were studied for decades. The amazing thing is that the theoretical and experimental progress showed how combining these two ingredients one can create the special Majorana bound states. Sergey Frolov very properly calls them zen particles, by comparison with the god particle, Higgs boson. They have no energy, no charge, and no mass (which makes them extremely hard to find), and they store quantum information in a way completely hidden from environment. The state of these quantum degrees of freedom changes when they are moved around each other, allowing to implement an alternative route to quantum computation.

Topological insulators.

Symmetry has always been a guiding concept in physics, allowing to generalize conclusions from one particular system to many which possess similar qualities. The other concept with applicability that is perhaps as broad is topology. It allows to conclude that certain properties of superficially very different systems must be identical as long as the two systems can be continuously transformed into one another. Topological insulators use a combination of both symmetry and topology. The surface of these materials is guaranteed to be conducting as long as certain symmetry of the material is unbroken, and as long as bulk stays insulating.


Numerical simulation of a physical system is a useful and sometimes irrepleacable tool in various tasks. It can be used as a boost or a check of the intuition, it may lead to finding an efficient analytical approximation, or as the last resort in handling the problems that are beyond the reach of analytics. To make the numerical calculations more accessible to the community, me and my colleagues have developed a sofware package kwant, which can be used to numerically solve a broad range of problems in mesoscopic quantum transport.


Contents © 2013-2015 Anton Akhmerov CC-BY-SA

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