From Flux Pinning to DNA Sequence Alignment:

Novel Applications of Localizaiton in a Random Environment

Terrence Hwa


        One of the first problems a student of quantum mechanics solves is the localization of a particle to a potential well. The simple physics underlying the localization phenomenon has been exploited in a number of novel technological applications. This article reviews two such applications: flux pinning in high-T c superconductors, and similarity search in DNA sequence alignment. The usual competition between the potential energy gain and kinetic energy cost that drives the localization-delocalization transition is replaced here by similar competitions between energy and entropy in one case, and correlated and random energies in another. Understanding of such processes can lead to enhanced performance of superconductors and improved algorithms for similarity searches.

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