Simulating the quantum world with ultracold atoms

Qi-yu Liang (Hosted by Murch), Joint Quantum Institute, University of Maryland and National Institute of Standards and Technology

Ultracold atoms, free from disorder and highly tunable, are ideal quantum simulation platforms. Not only can they complement other quantum systems (e.g. solid-state systems) with their unique detection methods and approach intangible systems (e.g. black holes) in a highly controllable fashion, they are also able to reach regimes that are otherwise difficult or impossible. I will use my work - realizing a two-dimensional (2D) magnetic lattice model on a cylindrical geometry - to illustrate this point. Two major challenges hinder the study of this system with usual crystal lattices: First, the required magnetic field is experimentally unattainable (104 T); Second, the magnetic flux threaded down the cylinder has no analog on a planar geometry. However, neither pose any difficulty for ultracold atoms subjected to synthetic magnetic fluxes. I will show that by rolling the synthetic 2D lattice space into a long tube, just 3-site around, I observed an unexpected disorder-induced transition. Counterintuitively, the dynamic evolution of the system is exquisitely phase sensitive without disorder, and the sensitivity can be suppressed by introducing disorder. Future prospects include characterizing exotic phases and phase transitions and realizing topological fractional charge pumping in strongly correlated regimes.