I was reading a story on phys.org:

Holographic image of a black hole proposed in a graphene flake (Lisa Zyga, 25 July 2018, phys.org)

From there I followed a link to the paper

Quantum Holography in a Graphene Flake with an Irregular Boundary. A. Chen et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 036403 (2018), arXiv:1802.00802.

where I read the following abstract:

Electrons in clean macroscopic samples of graphene exhibit an astonishing variety of quantum phases when strong perpendicular magnetic field is applied. These include integer and fractional quantum Hall states as well as symmetry broken phases and quantum Hall ferromagnetism. Here we show that mesoscopic graphene flakes in the regime of strong disorder and magnetic field can exhibit another remarkable quantum phase described by holographic duality to an extremal black hole in two dimensional anti-de Sitter space. This phase of matter can be characterized as a maximally chaotic non-Fermi liquid since it is described by a complex fermion version of the Sachdev-Ye-Kitaev model known to possess these remarkable properties.

I don't expect someone to explain the whole abstract -- that would be asking too much. But I would like to get oriented enough to "see the forest" without expecting to identify all the trees here.

In that spirit, is the initial description of a solid state system with "an astonishing variety of quantum phases" given in the realm of a quantum field theory? If not in a QFT, does another single theoretical approach describe "integer and fractional quantum Hall states as well as symmetry broken phases and quantum Hall ferromagnetism" -- or are there one or more theories or problem-solving frameworks involved?


The overarching field for this research is, simply put, condensed matter theory and, more specifically, the study of phases of matter that involve strongly correlated quantum systems.

Generally speaking, condensed matter tends to use, on a quite regular basis, concepts and methods of quantum field theory, and a lot of its language is drawn from that literature. However, it is distinct from QFT as applied to the physics of nuclear and subnuclear particles and their interaction. Instead, the 'fields' it describes are collective excitations of the electrons and nuclei in the material.

If you want a more detailed answer, though, you're going to need to provide a much more detailed question.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! That was just the kind of answer I was hoping for. My question was akin to waking up in a new place and asking, "Where am I?" The answer would not require GPS coordinates. "In Switzerland" or "Times Square" would be as much information as I needed. $\endgroup$ – Ralph Dratman Jul 26 '18 at 6:21

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