Our research for the layman

Summary for the layman

Much of modern technology owes to our deep understanding of electronic properties of materials. That understanding is rooted in intertwined empirical, experimental and theoretical knowledge. I work on the theoretical aspects of materials, in other words, I solve mathematical models and perform large scale computer simulations to understand electronic properties of materials that escape conventional tools of theoretical physics. The challenge of these “quantum materials” is rooted in the difficulties of handling problems where wave-particle duality is prevalent.   

Some of the algorithms that we have developed are used today in powerful software that allows to predict on a computer the properties of classes of materials that were impossible to simulate before. Some of these materials have exceptional properties, such as transporting electricity without resistance (superconductors), or the conversion of heat in electrical current in a very efficient way (large thermopower) or exceptional cooling properties without greenhouse gases (large magnetocaloric effect).

We believe that we are in a position to answer questions such as: What are the appropriate mathematical tools to predict the behavior of electronic systems that show both localized (magnetic) and propagating (superconducting) character? Can we use these tools to show that there are new elementary excitations, or concepts (pseudogap) that could summarize and explain in a simple way the anomalous properties of these systems (i.e. find concepts that will do what the concept of "holes" did for the semiconductor industry)? Can we also use these concepts in related classes of materials? What is the origin of high temperature superconductivity? Answering such questions should help people in my field to develop materials that may have other striking and technologically useful magnetic or electrical properties and also exhibit new phases of matter. Answering such questions will also help in the quest for materials that could exhibit superconductivity at room temperature. Since superconductivity manifests quantum properties on a macroscopic scale, one can foresee in the long run the birth of revolutionary technologies, such as the quantum computer, and corresponding new industries.

Outreach since June 2011



33.5MS grant for research on quantum materials and quantum information in Sherbrooke


Reportage de Sophie-Andrée Blondin aux Années-Lumière (Radio-Canada) 5 juin 2011, 100 ans de supraconductivité.


Talk at Atomic Energy of Canada May 10, 2011

Vidéo: présentation au Camp de mathématiques, 13 juin 2011

Magazines and newspapers

Entanglement revealed at the boiling point of interacting electrons

Popular summary of a talk in Beijing, August 2018 (In German)

33.5MS grant for research on quantum materials and quantum information in Sherbrooke

An analogy with water comes to the rescue of superconductors, from the 2012 annual report of Institut Laue Langevin, Grenoble

     (In French: Une analogie entre les phases de l'eau et celles des supraconducteurs, mars 2013)

Superconductivity: Advances and Prospects, June 2011

Cent ans de supraconductivité, Université de Sherbrooke, juillet 2011

La supraconductivité en un clin d'oeil, juin 2011

I have been cited in the Science magazine paper by Adrian Cho for 20 years of Superconductivity, attached as a pdf file below.

Percolation, December 1988 (in French)