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Topological insulators are electronic phases that insulate in the bulk and accommodate a peculiar, metallic edge liquid with a spin-dependent dispersion.
They are regarded to be of considerable future use in spintronics and for quantum computation.
Besides determining the intrinsic properties of this rather novel electronic phase, considering its combination with well-known physical systems can generate genuinely new physics.
In this thesis, we report on such combinations including topological insulators. Specifically, we analyze an attached Rashba impurity, a Kondo dot in the two channel setup, magnetic impurities on the surface of a strong three-dimensional topological insulator, the proximity coupling of the latter system to a superconductor, and hybrid systems consisting of a topological insulator and a semimetal.
Let us summarize our primary results.
Firstly, we determine an analytical formula for the Kondo cloud and describe its possible detection in current correlations far away from the Kondo region.
We thereby rely on and extend the method of refermionizable points.
Furthermore, we find a class of gapless topological superconductors and semimetals, which accommodate edge states that behave similarly to the ones of globally gapped topological phases. Unexpectedly, we also find edge states that change their chirality when affected by sufficiently strong disorder.
We regard the presented research helpful in future classifications and applications of systems containing topological insulators, of which we propose some examples.

This Thesis investigates the interplay of a central degree of freedom with an environment. Thereby, the environment is prepared in a localized phase of matter.
The long-term aim of this setup is to store quantum information on the central degree of freedom while exploiting the advantages of localized systems.
These many-body localized systems fail to equilibrate under the description of thermodynamics, mostly due to disorder. Doing so, they form the most prominent phase of matter that violates the eigenstate thermalization hypothesis. Thus, many-body localized systems preserve information about an initial state until infinite times without the necessity to isolate the system.
This unique feature clearly suggests to store quantum information within localized environments, whenever isolation is impracticable.
After an introduction to the relevant concepts, this Thesis examines to which extent a localized phase of matter may exist at all if a central degree of freedom dismantles the notion of locality in the first place. To this end, a central spin is coupled to the disordered Heisenberg spin chain, which shows many-body localization. Furthermore, a noninteracting analog describing free fermions is discussed. Therein, an impurity is coupled to an Anderson localized environment.
It is found that in both cases, the presence of the central degree of freedom manifests in many properties of the localized environment. However, for a sufficiently weak coupling, quantum chaos, and thus, thermalization is absent. In fact, it is shown that the critical disorder, at which the metal-insulator transition of its environment occurs in the absence of the central degree of freedom, is modified by the coupling strength of the central degree of freedom. To demonstrate this, a phase diagram is derived.
Within the localized phase, logarithmic growth of entanglement entropy, a typical signature of many-body localized systems, is increased by the coupling to the central spin. This property is traced back to resonantly coupling spins within the localized Heisenberg chain and analytically derived in the absence of interactions. Thus, the studied model of free fermions is the first model without interactions that mimics the logarithmic spreading of entanglement entropy known from many-body localized systems.
Eventually, it is demonstrated that observables regarding the central spin significantly break the eigenstate thermalization hypothesis within the localized phase. Therefore, it is demonstrated how a central spin can be employed as a detector of many-body localization.

Despite its history of more than one hundred years, the phenomenon of
superconductivity has not lost any of its allure. During that time the concept
and perception of the superconducting state - both from an experimental and
theoretical point of view - has evolved in way that has
triggered increasing interest. What was initially believed to simply be the
disappearance of electrical resistivity, turned out to be a universal and
inevitable result of quantum statistics, characterized by many more
aspects apart from its zero resistivity. The insights of
BCS-theory eventually helped to uncover its deep connection to particle physics
and consequently led to the formulation of the Anderson-Higgs-mechanism. The
very core of this theory is the concept of gauge symmetry (breaking). Within the
framework of condensed-matter theory, gauge invariance is only one of several
symmetry groups which are crucial for the description and classification of
superconducting states. \\
In this thesis, we employ time-reversal, inversion, point group and spin
symmetries to investigate and derive possible Hamiltonians featuring spin-orbit
interaction in two and three spatial dimensions.
In particular, this thesis aims at a generalization of existing numerical
concepts to open up the path to spin-orbit coupled (non)centrosymmetric
superconductors in multi-orbital models.
This is done in a two-fold way: On the one hand, we formulate - based on the
Kohn-Luttinger effect - the perturbative renormalization group in the
weak-coupling limit. On the other hand, we define the spinful flow equations of
the effective action in the framework of functional renormalization, which is
valid for finite interaction strength as well. Both perturbative and functional
renormalization groups produce a low-energy effective (spinful) theory that
eventually gives rise to a particular superconducting state, which is investigated
on the level of the irreducible two-particle vertex. The symbiotic relationship
between both perturbative and functional renormalization can be traced back to
the fact that, while the perturbative renormalization at infinitesimal coupling
is only capable of dealing with the Cooper instability, the functional
renormalization can investigate a plethora of instabilities both in the
particle-particle and particle-hole channels. \\
Time-reversal and inversion are the two key symmetries, which are being used to
discriminate between two scenarios. If both time-reversal and inversion symmetry
are present, the Fermi surface will be two-fold degenerate and characterized by a
pseudospin degree of freedom. In contrast, if inversion symmetry is broken, the
Fermi surface will be spin-split and labeled by helicity. In both cases, we
construct the symmetry allowed states in the particle-particle as well as the
particle-hole channel. The methods presented are formally unified and implemented
in a modern object-oriented reusable and extendable C++ code.
This methodological implementation is employed to one member of both families of
pseudospin and helicity characterized systems. For the pseudospin case, we choose
the intriguing matter of strontium ruthenate, which has been heavily
investigated for already twenty-four years, but still keeps puzzling researchers.
Finally, as the helicity based application, we consider the oxide heterostructure
LaAlO$_{3}$/SrTiO$_{3}$, which became famous for its highly mobile two-
dimensional electron gas and is suspected to host topological superconductivity.

This thesis describes the studies of topological superconductivity, which is predicted to
emerge when pair correlations are induced into the surface states of 2D and 3D topolog-
ical insulators (TIs). In this regard, experiments have been designed to investigate the
theoretical ideas ﬁrst pioneered by Fu and Kane that in such system Majorana bound
states occur at vortices or edges of the system [Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 096407 (2008), Phys.
Rev. B 79, 161408 (2009)]. These states are of great interest as they constitute a new
quasiparticle which is its own antiparticle and can be used as building blocks for fault
tolerant topological quantum computing.
After an introduction in chapter 1, chapter 2 of the thesis lays the foundation for the
understanding of the ﬁeld of topology in the context of condensed matter physics with a
focus on topological band insulators and topological superconductors. Starting from a
Chern insulator, the concepts of topological band theory and the bulk boundary corre-
spondence are explained. It is then shown that the low energy Hamiltonian of mercury
telluride (HgTe) quantum wells of an appropriate thickness can be written as two time
reversal symmetric copies of a Chern insulator. This leads to the quantum spin Hall effect.
In such a system, spin-polarized one dimensional conducting states form at the edges
of the material, while the bulk is insulating. This concept is extended to 3D topological
insulators with conducting 2D surface states. As a preliminary step to treating topological
superconductivity, a short review of the microscopic theory of superconductivity, i.e. the
theory of Bardeen, Cooper, and Shrieffer (BCS theory) is presented. The presence of
Majorana end modes in a one dimensional superconducting chain is explained using the
Kitaev model. Finally, topological band insulators and conventional superconductivity
are combined to effectively engineer p-wave superconductivity. One way to investigate
these states is by measuring the periodicity of the phase of the Josephson supercurrent
in a topological Josephson junction. The signature is a 4π-periodicity compared to the
2π-periodicity in conventional Josephson junctions. The proof of the presence of this
effect in HgTe based Josephson junction is the main goal of this thesis and is discussed in
chapters 3 to 6.
Chapter 3 describes in detail the transport of a 3D topological insulator based weak
link under radio-frequency radiation. The chapter starts with a review of the state of
research of (i) strained HgTe as 3D topological insulator and (ii) the progress of induc-
ing superconducting correlations into the topological surface states and the theoretical
predictions of 3D TI based Josephson junctions. Josephson junctions based on strained
HgTe are successfully fabricated. Before studying the ac driven Josephson junctions, the
dc transport of the devices is analysed. The critical current as a function of temperature
is measured and it is possible to determine the induced superconducting gap. Under
rf illumination Shapiro steps form in the current voltage characteristic. A missing ﬁrst
step at low frequencies and low powers is found in our devices. This is a signature of
a 4π-periodic supercurrent. By studying the device in a wide parameter range - as a
147148 SUMMARY
function of frequency, power, device geometry and magnetic ﬁeld - it is shown that the
results are in agreement with the presence of a single gapless Andreev doublet and several
conventional modes.
Chapter 4 gives results of the numerical modelling of the I −V dynamics in a Josephson
junction where both a 2π- and a 4π-periodic supercurrents are present. This is done in
the framework of an equivalent circuit representation, namely the resistively shunted
Josephson junction model (RSJ-model). The numerical modelling is in agreement with
the experimental results in chapter 3. First, the missing of odd Shapiro steps can be
understood by a small 4π-periodic supercurrent contribution and a large number of
modes which have a conventional 2π-periodicity. Second, the missing of odd Shapiro
steps occurs at low frequency and low rf power. Third, it is shown that stochastic processes
like Landau Zener tunnelling are most probably not responsible for the 4π contribution.
In a next step the periodicity of Josephson junctions based on quantum spin Hall
insulators using are investigated in chapter 5. A fabrication process of Josephson junctions
based on inverted HgTe quantum wells was successfully developed. In order to achieve a
good proximity effect the barrier material was removed and the superconductor deposited
without exposing the structure to air. In a next step a gate electrode was fabricated which
allows the chemical potential of the quantum well to be tuned. The measurement of the
diffraction pattern of the critical current Ic due to a magnetic ﬁeld applied perpendicular
to the sample plane was conducted. In the vicinity to the expected quantum spin Hall
phase, the pattern resembles that of a superconducting quantum interference device
(SQUID). This shows that the current ﬂows predominantly on the edges of the mesa.
This observation is taken as a proof of the presence of edge currents. By irradiating the
sample with rf, missing odd Shapiro steps up to step index n = 9 have been observed. This
evidences the presence of a 4π-periodic contribution to the supercurrent. The experiment
is repeated using a weak link based on a non-inverted HgTe quantum well. This material
is expected to be a normal band insulator without helical edge channels. In this device,
all the expected Shapiro steps are observed even at low frequencies and over the whole
gate voltage range. This shows that the observed phenomena are directly connected
to the topological band structure. Both features, namely the missing of odd Shapiro
steps and the SQUID like diffraction pattern, appear strongest towards the quantum spin
Hall regime, and thus provide evidence for induced topological superconductivity in the
helical edge states.
A more direct way to probe the periodicity of the Josephson supercurrent than using
Shapiro steps is the measurement of the emitted radiation of a weak link. This experiment
is presented in chapter 6. A conventional Josephson junction converts a dc bias V to
an ac current with a characteristic Josephson frequency fJ
= eV /h. In a topological
Josephson junction a frequency at half the Josephson frequency fJ /2 is expected. A
new measurement setup was developed in order to measure the emitted spectrum of a
single Josephson junction. With this setup the spectrum of a HgTe quantum well based
Josephson junction was measured and the emission at half the Josephson frequency fJ /2
was detected. In addition, fJ emission is also detected depending on the gate voltage and
detection frequency. The spectrum is again dominated by half the Josephson emission at
low voltages while the conventional emission is determines the spectrum at high voltages.
A non-inverted quantum well shows only conventional emission over the whole gateSUMMARY 149
voltage and frequency range. The linewidth of the detected frequencies gives a measure
on the lifetime of the bound states: From there, a coherence time of 0.3–4ns for the fJ /2
line has been deduced. This is generally shorter than for the fJ line (3–4ns).
The last part of the thesis, chapter 7, reports on the induced superconducting state
in a strained HgTe layer investigated by point-contact Andreev reﬂection spectroscopy.
For the experiment, a HgTe mesa was fabricated with a small constriction. The diameter
of the oriﬁce was chosen to be smaller than the mean free path estimated from magne-
totransport measurements. Thus one gets a ballistic point-contact which allows energy
resolved spectroscopy. One part of the mesa is covered with a superconductor which
induces superconducting correlations into the surface states of the topological insulator.
This experiment therefore probes a single superconductor normal interface. In contrast to
the Josephson junctions studied previously, the geometry allows the acquisition of energy
resolved information of the induced superconducting state through the measurement
of the differential conductance dI/dV as a function of applied dc bias for various gate
voltages, temperatures and magnetic ﬁelds. An induced superconducting order parame-
ter of about 70µeV was extracted but also signatures of the niobium gap at the expected
value around Δ Nb
≈ 1.1meV have been found. Simulations using the theory developed by
Blonder, Tinkham and Klapwijk and an extended model taking the topological surface
states into account were used to ﬁt the data. The simulations are in agreement with a
small barrier at the topological insulator-induced topological superconductor interface
and a high barrier at the Nb to topological insulator interface. To understand the full con-
ductance curve as a function of applied voltage, a non-equilibrium driven transformation
is suggested. The induced superconductivity is suppressed at a certain bias value due to
local electron population. In accordance with this suppression, the relevant scattering
regions change spatially as a function of applied bias.
To conclude, it is emphasized that the experiments conducted in this thesis found
clear signatures of induced topological superconductivity in HgTe based quantum well
and bulk devices and opens up the avenue to many experiments. It would be interesting
to apply the developed concepts to other topological matter-superconductor hybrid
systems. The direct spectroscopy and manipulation of the Andreev bound states using
circuit quantum electrodynamic techniques should be the next steps for HgTe based
samples. This was already achieved in superconducting atomic break junctions by the
group in Saclay [Science 2015, 349, 1199-1202 (2015)]. Another possible development
would be the on-chip detection of the emitted spectrum as a function of the phase φ
through the junction. In this connection, the topological junction needs to be shunted
by a parallel ancillary junction. Such a setup would allow the current phase relation
I(φ) directly and the lifetime of the bound states to be measured directly. By coupling
this system to a spectrometer, which can be another Josephson junction, the energy
dependence of the Andreev bound states E(φ) could be obtained. The experiments on
the Andreev reﬂection spectroscopy described in this thesis could easily be extended to
two dimensional topological insulators and to more complex geometries, like a phase
bias loop or a tunable barrier at the point-contact. This work might also be useful for
answering the question how and why Majorana bound states can be localized in quantum
spin Hall systems.

In the course of the growth of the Internet and due to increasing availability of data, over the last two decades, the field of network science has established itself as an own area of research. With quantitative scientists from computer science, mathematics, and physics working on datasets from biology, economics, sociology, political sciences, and many others, network science serves as a paradigm for interdisciplinary research.
One of the major goals in network science is to unravel the relationship between topological graph structure and a network’s function. As evidence suggests, systems from the same fields, i.e. with similar function, tend to exhibit similar structure. However, it is still vague whether a similar graph structure automatically implies likewise function. This dissertation aims at helping to bridge this gap, while particularly focusing on the role of triadic structures.
After a general introduction to the main concepts of network science, existing work devoted to the relevance of triadic substructures is reviewed. A major challenge in modeling triadic structure is the fact that not all three-node subgraphs can be specified independently
of each other, as pairs of nodes may participate in multiple of those triadic subgraphs.
In order to overcome this obstacle, we suggest a novel class of generative network models based on so called Steiner triple systems. The latter are partitions of a graph’s vertices into pair-disjoint triples (Steiner triples). Thus, the configurations on Steiner triples can be specified independently of each other without overdetermining the network’s link
structure.
Subsequently, we investigate the most basic realization of this new class of models. We call it the triadic random graph model (TRGM). The TRGM is parametrized by a probability distribution over all possible triadic subgraph patterns. In order to generate a network instantiation of the model, for all Steiner triples in the system, a pattern is drawn from the distribution and adjusted randomly on the Steiner triple. We calculate the degree distribution of the TRGM analytically and find it to be similar to a Poissonian distribution. Furthermore, it is shown that TRGMs possess non-trivial triadic structure. We discover inevitable correlations in the abundance of certain triadic subgraph
patterns which should be taken into account when attributing functional relevance to particular motifs – patterns which occur significantly more frequently than expected at random. Beyond, the strong impact of the probability distributions on the Steiner triples on the occurrence of triadic subgraphs over the whole network is demonstrated. This interdependence allows us to design ensembles of networks with predefined triadic substructure. Hence, TRGMs help to overcome the lack of generative models needed for assessing the relevance of triadic structure.
We further investigate whether motifs occur homogeneously or heterogeneously distributed over a graph. Therefore, we study triadic subgraph structures in each node’s neighborhood individually. In order to quantitatively measure structure from an individual node’s perspective, we introduce an algorithm for node-specific pattern mining for both directed unsigned, and undirected signed networks. Analyzing real-world datasets, we find that there are networks in which motifs are distributed highly heterogeneously, bound to the proximity of only very few nodes. Moreover, we observe indication for the potential sensitivity of biological systems to a targeted removal of these critical vertices. In addition, we study whole graphs with respect to the homogeneity and homophily of their node-specific triadic structure. The former describes the similarity of subgraph distributions in the neighborhoods of individual vertices. The latter quantifies whether connected vertices
are structurally more similar than non-connected ones. We discover these features to be characteristic for the networks’ origins. Moreover, clustering the vertices of graphs regarding their triadic structure, we investigate structural groups in the neural network of C. elegans, the international airport-connection network, and the global network of diplomatic sentiments between countries. For the latter we find evidence for the instability of triangles considered socially unbalanced according to sociological theories.
Finally, we utilize our TRGM to explore ensembles of networks with similar triadic substructure in terms of the evolution of dynamical processes acting on their nodes. Focusing on oscillators, coupled along the graphs’ edges, we observe that certain triad motifs impose a clear signature on the systems’ dynamics, even when embedded in a larger
network structure.

The topic of this PhD thesis is the combination of topologically non-trivial phases with correlation effects stemming from Coulomb interaction between the electrons in a condensed matter system. Emphasis is put on both emerging benefits as well as hindrances, e.g. concerning the topological protection in the presence of strong interactions.
The physics related to topological effects is established in Sec. 2. Based on the topological band theory, we introduce topological materials including Chern insulators, topological insulators in two and three dimensions as well as Weyl semimetals. Formalisms for a controlled treatment of Coulomb correlations are presented in Sec. 3, starting with the topological field theory. The Random Phase Approximation is introduced as a perturbative approach, while in the strongly interacting limit the theory of quantum Hall ferromagnetism applies. Interactions in one dimension are special, and are treated through the Luttinger liquid description. The section ends with an overview of the expected benefits offered by the combination of topology and interactions, see Sec. 3.3.
These ideas are then elaborated in the research part. In Chap. II, we consider weakly interacting 2D topological insulators, described by the Bernevig-Hughes-Zhang model. This is applicable, e.g., to quantum well structures made of HgTe/CdTe or InAs/GaSb. The bulk band structure is here a mixture stemming from linear Dirac and quadratic Schrödinger fermions. We study the low-energy excitations in Random Phase Approximation, where a new interband plasmon emerges due to the combined Dirac and Schrödinger physics, which is absent in the separate limits. Already present in the undoped limit, one finds it also at finite doping, where it competes with the usual intraband plasmon. The broken particle-hole symmetry in HgTe quantum wells allows for an effective separation of the two in the excitation spectrum for experimentally accessible parameters, in the right range for Raman or electron loss spectroscopy. The interacting bulk excitation spectrum shows here clear differences between the topologically trivial and topologically non-trivial regime. An even stronger signal in experiments is expected from the optical conductivity of the system. It thus offers a quantitative way to identify the topological phase of 2D topological insulators from a bulk measurement.
In Chap. III, we study a strongly interacting system, forming an ordered, quantum Hall ferromagnetic state. The latter can arise also in weakly interacting materials with an applied strong magnetic field. Here, electrons form flat Landau levels, quenching the kinetic energy such that Coulomb interaction can be dominant. These systems define the class of quantum Hall topological insulators: topologically non-trivial states at finite magnetic field, where the counter-propagating edge states are protected by a symmetry (spatial or spin) other than time-reversal. Possible material realizations are 2D topological insulators like HgTe heterostructures and graphene. In our analysis, we focus on the vicinity of the topological phase transition, where the system is in a strongly interacting quantum Hall ferromagnetic state. The bulk and edge physics can be described by a nonlinear \sigma-model for the collective order parameter of the ordered state. We find that an emerging, continuous U(1) symmetry offers topological protection. If this U(1) symmetry is preserved, the topologically non-trivial phase persists in the presence of interactions, and we find a helical Luttinger liquid at the edge. The latter is highly tunable by the magnetic field, where the effective interaction strength varies from weakly interacting at zero field, K \approx 1, to diverging interaction strength at the phase transition, K -> 0.
In the last Chap. IV, we investigate whether a Weyl semimetal and a 3D topological insulator phase can exist together at the same time, with a combined, hybrid surface state at the joint boundaries. An overlap between the two can be realized by Coulomb interaction or a spatial band overlap of the two systems. A tunnel coupling approach allows us to derive the hybrid surface state Hamiltonian analytically, enabling a detailed study of its dispersion relation. For spin-symmetric coupling, new Dirac nodes emerge out of the combination of a single Dirac node and a Fermi arc. Breaking the spin symmetry through the coupling, the dispersion relation is gapped and the former Dirac node gets spin-polarized. We propose experimental realizations of the hybrid physics, including compressively strained HgTe as well as heterostructures of topological insulator and Weyl semimetal materials, connected to each other, e.g., by Coulomb interaction.

The prediction and the experimental discovery of topological insulators has set the stage for a novel type of electronic devices. In contrast to conventional metals or semiconductors, this new class of materials exhibits peculiar transport properties at the sample surface, as conduction channels emerge at the topological boundaries of the system.
In specific materials with strong spin-orbit coupling, a particular form of a two-dimensional topological insulator, the quantum spin Hall state, can be observed.
Here, the respective one-dimensional edge channels are helical in nature, meaning that there is a locking of the spin orientation of an electron and its direction of motion.
Due to the symmetry of time-reversal, elastic backscattering off interspersed impurities is suppressed in such a helical system, and transport is approximately ballistic.
This allows in principle for the realization of novel energy-efficient devices, ``spintronic`` applications, or the formation of exotic bound states with non-Abelian statistics, which could be used for quantum computing.
The present work is concerned with the general transport properties of one-dimensional helical states. Beyond the topological protection mentioned above, inelastic backscattering can arise from various microscopic sources, of which the most prominent ones will be discussed in this Thesis. As it is characteristic for one-dimensional systems, the role of electron-electron interactions can be of major importance in this context.
First, we review well-established techniques of many-body physics in one dimension such as perturbative renormalization group analysis, (Abelian) bosonization, and Luttinger liquid theory. The latter allow us to treat electron interactions in an exact way.
Those methods then are employed to derive the corrections to the conductance in a helical transport channel, that arise from various types of perturbations.
Particularly, we focus on the interplay of Rashba spin-orbit coupling and electron interactions as a source of inelastic single-particle and two-particle backscattering. It is demonstrated, that microscopic details of the system, such as the existence of a momentum cutoff, that restricts the energy spectrum, or the presence of non-interacting leads attached to the system, can fundamentally alter the transport signature.
By comparison of the predicted corrections to the conductance to a transport experiment, one can gain insight about the microscopic processes and the structure of a quantum spin Hall sample.
Another important mechanism we analyze is backscattering induced by magnetic moments. Those findings provide an alternative interpretation of recent transport measurements in InAs/GaSb quantum wells.

Due to their potential application for quantum computation, quantum dots have attracted a lot of interest in recent years. In these devices single electrons can be captured, whose spin can be used to define a quantum bit (qubit). However, the information stored in these quantum bits is fragile due to the interaction of the electron spin with its environment. While many of the resulting problems have already been solved, even on the experimental side, the hyperfine interaction between the nuclear spins of the host material and the electron spin in their center remains as one of the major obstacles. As a consequence, the reduction of the number of nuclear spins is a promising way to minimize this effect. However, most quantum dots have a fixed number of nuclear spins due to the presence of group III and V elements of the periodic table in the host material. In contrast, group IV elements such as carbon allow for a variable size of the nuclear spin environment through isotopic purification. Motivated by this possibility, we theoretically investigate the physics of the central spin model in carbon based quantum dots. In particular, we focus on the consequences of a variable number of nuclear spins on the decoherence of the electron spin in graphene quantum dots.
Since our models are, in many aspects, based upon actual experimental setups, we provide an overview of the most important achievements of spin qubits in quantum dots in the first part of this Thesis. To this end, we discuss the spin interactions in semiconductors on a rather general ground. Subsequently, we elaborate on their effect in GaAs and graphene, which can be considered as prototype materials. Moreover, we also explain how the central spin model can be described in terms of open and closed quantum systems and which theoretical tools are suited to analyze such models.
Based on these prerequisites, we then investigate the physics of the electron spin using analytical and numerical methods. We find an intriguing thermal flip of the electron spin using standard statistical physics. Subsequently, we analyze the dynamics of the electron spin under influence of a variable number of nuclear spins. The limit of a large nuclear spin environment is investigated using the Nakajima-Zwanzig quantum master equation, which reveals a decoherence of the electron spin with a power-law decay on short timescales. Interestingly, we find a dependence of the details of this decay on the orientation of an external magnetic field with respect to the graphene plane. By restricting to a small number of nuclear spins, we are able to analyze the dynamics of the electron spin by exact diagonalization, which provides us with more insight into the microscopic details of the decoherence. In particular, we find a fast initial decay of the electron spin, which asymptotically reaches a regime governed by small fluctuations around a finite long-time average value. Finally, we analytically predict upper bounds on the size of these fluctuations in the framework of quantum thermodynamics.

An experimental setup for probing ultrafast dynamics at the diﬀraction limit was developed, characterized and demonstrated in the scope of the thesis, aiming for optical investigations while simultaneously approaching the physical limits on the length and timescale.
An overview of this experimental setup was given in Chapter 2, as well as the considerations that led to the selection of the individual components. Broadband laser pulses with a length of 9.3 fs, close to the transform limit of 7.6 fs, were focused in a NA = 1.4 immersion oil objective, to the diﬀraction limit of below 300 nm (FWHM).
The spatial focus shape was characterized with oﬀ-resonance gold nanorod scatterers scanned through the focal volume. For further insights into the functionality and limitations of the pulse shaper, its calibration procedure was reviewed. The deviations between designed and experimental pulse shapes were attributed to pulse-shaper artifacts, including voltage-dependent inter-layer as well as intra-layer LCD-pixel crosstalk, Fabry-Pérot-type reﬂections in the LCD layers, and space-time coupling. A pixel-dependent correction was experimentally carried out, which can be seen as an extension of the initial calibration to all possible voltage combinations of the two LCD layers.
The capabilities of the experimental setup were demonstrated in two types of experiments, targeting the nonlinearity of gold (Chapter 3) as well as two-dimensional spectroscopy at micro-structured surfaces (Chapter 4).
Investigating thin films, an upper bound for the absolute value for the imaginary part of the nonlinear refractive index of gold could be set to |n′′ 2 (Au)| < 0.6·10−16 m2/W, together with |n′ 2 (Au)| < 1.2·10−16 m2/W as an upper bound for the absolute value of the real part. Finite-diﬀerence time-domain simulations on y-shaped gold nanostructures indicated that a phase change of ∆Φ ≥ 0.07 rad between two plasmonic modes would induce a suﬃcient change in the spatial contrast of emission to the far-field to be visible in the experiment. As the latter could not be observed, this value of ∆Φ was determined as the upper bound for the experimentally induced phase change. An upper bound of 52 GW/cm2 was found for the damage threshold.
In Chapter 4, a novel method for nonlinear spectroscopy on surfaces was presented. Termed coherent two-dimensional ﬂuorescence micro-spectroscopy, it is capable of exploring ultrafast dynamics in nanostructures and molecular systems at the diﬀraction limit. Two-dimensional spectra of spatially isolated hotspots in structured thin ﬁlms of fluorinated zinc phthalocyanine (F16ZnPc) dye were taken with a 27-step phase-cycling scheme. Observed artifacts in the 2D maps were identiﬁed as a consequence from deviations between the desired and the experimental pulse shapes. The optimization procedures described in Chapter 2 successfully suppressed the deviations to a level where the separation from the nonlinear sample response was feasible.
The experimental setup and methods developed and presented in the scope of this thesis demonstrate its ﬂexibility and capability to study microscopic systems on surfaces. The systems exemplarily shown are consisting of metal-organic dyes and metallic nanostructures, represent samples currently under research in the growing ﬁelds of organic semiconductors and plasmonics.

In this thesis we discuss the potential of nanodevices based on topological insulators. This novel class of matter is characterized by an insulating bulk with simultaneously conducting boundaries. To lowest order, the states that are evoking the conducting behavior in TIs are typically described by a Dirac theory. In the two-dimensional case, together with time- reversal symmetry, this implies a helical nature of respective states. Then, interesting physics appears when two such helical edge state pairs are brought close together in a two-dimensional topological insulator quantum constriction. This has several advantages. Inside the constriction, the system obeys essentially the same number of fermionic fields as a conventional quantum wire, however, it possesses more symmetries. Moreover, such a constriction can be naturally contacted by helical probes, which eventually allows spin- resolved transport measurements.
We use these intriguing properties of such devices to predict the formation and detection of several profound physical effects. We demonstrate that narrow trenches in quantum spin Hall materials – a structure we coin anti-wire – are able to show a topological super- conducting phase, hosting isolated non-Abelian Majorana modes. They can be detected by means of a simple conductance experiment using a weak coupling to passing by helical edge states. The presence of Majorana modes implies the formation of unconventional odd-frequency superconductivity. Interestingly, however, we find that regardless of the presence or absence of Majoranas, related (superconducting) devices possess an uncon- ventional odd-frequency superconducting pairing component, which can be associated to a particular transport channel. Eventually, this enables us to prove the existence of odd- frequency pairing in superconducting quantum spin Hall quantum constrictions. The symmetries that are present in quantum spin Hall quantum constrictions play an essen- tial role for many physical effects. As distinguished from quantum wires, quantum spin Hall quantum constrictions additionally possess an inbuilt charge-conjugation symmetry. This can be used to form a non-equilibrium Floquet topological phase in the presence of a time-periodic electro-magnetic field. This non-equilibrium phase is accompanied by topological bound states that are detectable in transport characteristics of the system. Despite single-particle effects, symmetries are particularly important when electronic in- teractions are considered. As such, charge-conjugation symmetry implies the presence of a Dirac point, which in turn enables the formation of interaction induced gaps. Unlike single-particle gaps, interaction induced gaps can lead to large ground state manifolds. In combination with ordinary superconductivity, this eventually evokes exotic non-Abelian anyons beyond the Majorana. In the present case, these interactions gaps can even form in the weakly interacting regime (which is rather untypical), so that the coexistence with superconductivity is no longer contradictory. Eventually this leads to the simultaneous presence of a Z4 parafermion and a Majorana mode bound at interfaces between quantum constrictions and superconducting regions.