What are the microscopic degrees of freedom in quantum gravity and how does the gravitational force emerge from them?

Can we find and solve interesting holographic models of quantum gravity?

What really happens at black hole horizons in quantum gravity?

How hard it is to prepare states in quantum field theory using limited resources and what does it teach us about quantum gravity?

How to describe far from equilibrium quantum fields from first principles? What are patterns of thermalization in quantum field theory?

These are some of the fascinating questions at the frontier of our understanding of the universe that our group is investigating.

My interests lie in broadly-understood emergent phenomena in quantum field theories. I am using tools from quantum information science to understand how dynamical spacetime emerges from quantum field theory within holography. I am also studying universal behaviors arising in thermalization processes of quantum fields, such as relativistic hydrodynamics and non-thermal fixed points.

My research interests are in quantum gravity, black hole physics, holography and string theory. In particular, I am driven by the mysteries surrounding black holes and their horizons in quantum gravity. The concrete approach I am pursuing is that of exactly solvable lower-dimensional holographic gravity models (such as Jackiw-Teitelboim (JT) gravity and its cousins), where explicit quantum gravitational calculations can be done and interpreted. This research program is supported by the ERC Starting Grant BHHQG.

My earlier work focused on other aspects of black hole quantum physics, including string theoretic descriptions of the stretched horizon and black hole entropy, and the role of edge states in the entanglement entropy of bulk fields across the black hole horizon.

We will have one or more postdoc positions available to start in the
Fall of 2023.

To apply, please use the joint
postdoc application
with deadline November 30 2022.

My research focuses on lower-dimensional models of quantum gravity and their connections with higher-dimensional solutions. In this context, 2d Jackiw-Teitelboim (JT) Gravity is an extremely useful tool at our disposal. This 2-dimensional model is fully solvable and captures the near-horizon dynamics of higher-dimensional near-extremal black hole solutions.

My interests are mainly focused on quantum gravity and quantum information. I am trying to use ideas from information theory to understand how gravity emerges from quantum mechanics. In order to achieve this goal, the key is to understand the gravitational correspondence of some information theoretic concepts, including entanglement, complexity, quantum error correction, etc.

Thesis topic:

Jackiw-Teitelboim gravity, replica wormholes and the information
paradox.

Thesis topic:

Multi-universes, the c = 1 matrix model, and 2d gravity.

Thesis topic:

Complexity: new window on the emergence of spacetime.

MSc Thesis Subjects 2023-2024

Our MSc thesis topics for the academic year 2023-2024 can be found in the pdf below. Please contact us for further information.

Download PDFOur group provides several Master's courses in the Physics and Astronomy program.

Taught by Thomas Mertens and offered every year in the first term.

The group is located on the second floor in the building S9 on Campus Sterre.

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Ghent University

Krijgslaan 281 S9

B-9000 Gent, Belgium