WASHINGTON-American scientists have developed an algorithm that could reveal novel properties in materials, which reversed the typical mathematical process the condensed matter physicists used to search for new physics. A study published in the latest issue of Physical Review X reported a new method that started with what kind of physical properties would be interesting to find and worked backward to what class of materials would have such properties. Physics professor Bryan Clark at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said the algorithm gives a new way to study physical phenomena such as superconductivity. The process of writing and solving condensed matter equations is intricate and meticulous, generally starting with a Hamiltonian, a mathematical model that sums up the energies of all the particles in the system. “Typically, you would guess Hamiltonians that are likely to be superconducting and then try to solve them. What this algorithm, in theory, will allow us to do is to write down a wave function that we know super-conducts and then automatically generate all of the Hamiltonians or the specific models that give that wave function as their solution,” said Clark.

According to Clark, once scientists have the Hamiltonians, in some sense, they have all the other properties of the system, like the excitation spectrum and all the finite temperature properties.

“This has inverted the part of the process where we were sort of hunting in the dark,” said Clark.