By the resolution of the Poincare conjecture in 3D, we know that the only closed three-manifold with the trivial fundamental group is the three-sphere. In light of it, one can ask the following question: Suppose M is a closed three-manifold with the property that the only representation $\pi_1(M)\rightarrow SU(2)$ is the trivial one. Does this imply that $\pi_1(M)$ is trivial? The class of manifolds $M$ for which this question is interesting (and open) are integer homology spheres. We prove a result in this direction: the half-Dehn surgery on any non-trivial fibered knot $K$ in $S^3$ admits an irreducible representation. The proof uses instanton floer homology. I will give a brief introduction to instanton floer homology and sketch the strategy. This is based on work in progress, some jointly with Zhenkun Li and Fan Ye.

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Last updated: 11 Dec 2023