What Crystals Can Tell Us About the Origins of the Universe
Jumping from studying galactic scales to the nanoscale crystals in the laboratory might seem a gargantuan task. Common to both, however, is the concept of symmetry breaking and in particular the formation of topological defects – the materials equivalent of cosmic strings – in multiferroic crystals whose ferroelectric behavior enables the direct imaging of these defects. I also show how these crystals can be used to study an early-universe theory – the Kibble Zurek model – in the lab and demonstrate its verification for the first time in a crystal. In the second part of my talk I will discuss how quantum mechanical calculations of materials play a key role in the search for dark matter.