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Sean Hartnoll

Sean Hartnoll

Associate Professor of Physics


I am a theorist working on problems in condensed matter, high energy and gravitational physics.

The anomalous transport behavior of quantum many-body systems --- including unconventional materials such as high temperature superconductors and other 'strange metals', artificial ultracold atomic systems and the strongly coupled quark gluon plasma --- is a longstanding theoretical challenge that I have approached from several angles. I have suggested that transport in these systems may be controlled by fundamental limitations imposed by quantum statistical mechanics. To this end, I have established bounds on quantum transport that connect the macroscopic properties of these systems to quantities such as the local thermalization rate and underlying quantum mechanical `Lieb-Robinson' velocities. In parallel to this ''bird's eye'' approach, I am also increasingly interested in specific scattering mechanisms in unconventional materials that may give a relatively simple explanation of transport behavior that has otherwise been considered anomalous --- using this approach my collaborators and I have 'demystified' aspects of transport in quantum critical ruthenate materials.

I am also working on understanding aspects of the emergence of spacetime from large N matrix quantum mechanics models. These can be thought of as the simplest models of holographic duality, and will likely hold the key to understanding the emergence of local physics as well as black holes.

Along with many other theorists, I have found in recent years that the holographic correspondence, the physics of quantum entanglement and quantum field theory more generally have led to strong and unanticipated connections between central concerns in condensed matter and high energy physics.

Lists of my publications and of recorded talks and lectures can be found following the links on the right.

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor, Physics

Honors & Awards

Simons Investigator, Simons Foundation (2019)
New Horizons in Physics Prize, Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation (2014)
Presidential Early Career Award (PECASE), Department of Energy (2014)
Early Career Award, Department of Energy (2012)
Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, Sloan Foundation (2011)
Terman Fellowship, Stanford (2011)

Professional Education

PhD, Cambridge University, Theoretical Physics (2005)
Part III, Cambridge University, Theoretical Physics (2001)
BA, Cambridge University, Mathematics (2000)