Metastable order protected by destructive many-body interference
M. Nuske, J. Vargas, M. Hachmann, R. Eichberger, L. Mathey, A. Hemmerich
The phenomenon of metastability shapes dynamical processes ranging from radioactive decay to chemical reactions. Here, we present a mechanism for metastability in which a quantum gas self-stabilizes against relaxation towards thermal equilibrium by establishing a transient ordered state. In this state, the direct relaxation channel is suppressed by destructive interference, which derives from the chiral order of the transient state. In particular, we consider the dynamical evolution of an ultracold bosonic gas in an optical lattice, that is quenched into a higher band of the lattice, which triggers the dynamical evolution. Following this quench, the self-stabilization phenomenon manifests itself in three stages of relaxation, subsequent to the preparation of the incoherent excited state. In the first stage, the gas develops coherence resulting in the ordered state, during the second stage the gas forms a long-lived state with inhibited relaxation and slow loss of coherence, followed by the third stage of fast relaxation to the thermal ground state. We demonstrate this mechanism experimentally and theoretically, and discuss its broader implications.
Twisted superfluid phase in the extended one-dimensional Bose-Hubbard
Breaking inversion symmetry in a state-dependent honeycomb lattice: Artificial graphene with tunable band gap
M. Weinberg, C. Staarmann, C. Ölschläger, J. Simonet, K. Sengstock
Here, we present the application of a novel method for controlling the geometry of a state-dependent honeycomb lattice: The energy offset between the two sublattices of the honeycomb structure can be adjusted by rotating the atomic quantization axis. This enables us to continuously tune between a homogeneous graphene-like honeycomb lattice and a triangular lattice and to open an energy gap at the characteristic Dirac points. We probe the symmetry of the lattice with microwave spectroscopy techniques and investigate the behavior of atoms excited to the second energy band. We find a striking influence of the energy gap at the Dirac cones onto the lifetimes of atoms in the excited band.
Symmetry-broken momentum distributions induced by matter-wave diffraction during time-of-flight expansion of ultracold atoms
M. Weinberg, O. Jürgensen, C. Ölschläger, D.-S. Lühmann, K. Sengstock, J. Simonet
We study several effects which lead to symmetry-broken momentum distributions of quantum gases released from optical lattices. In particular, we demonstrate that interaction within the first milliseconds of the time-of-flight expansion can strongly alter the measurement of the initial atomic momentum distribution. For bosonic mixtures in state-dependent lattices, inter-species scattering processes lead to a symmetry breaking in momentum space. The underlying mechanism is identified to be diffraction of the matter wave from the total density lattice, which gives rise to a timedependent interaction potential. Our findings are of fundamental relevance for the interpretation of time-of-flight measurements and for the study of exotic quantum phases such as the twisted superfluid. Beyond that, the observed matter-wave diraction can also be used as an interferometric probe. In addition, we report on diffraction from the state-dependent standing light field, which leads to the same symmetry-broken momentum distributions, even for single component condensates.
Twisted complex superfluids in optical lattices
We show that correlated pair tunneling drives a phase transition to a twisted superfluid with a complex order parameter. This unconventional superfluid phase spontaneously breaks the time-reversal symmetry and is characterized by a twisting of the complex phase angle between adjacent lattice sites. We discuss the entire phase diagram of the extended Bose--Hubbard model for a honeycomb optical lattice showing a multitude of quantum phases including twisted superfluids, pair superfluids, supersolids and twisted supersolids. Furthermore, we show that the nearest-neighbor interactions breaks the inversion symmetry of the lattice and gives rise to dimerized density-wave insulators, where particles are delocalized on dimers. For two components, we find twisted superfluid phases with strong correlations between the species already for surprisingly small pair-tunneling amplitudes. Interestingly, this ground state shows an infinite degeneracy ranging continuously from a supersolid to a twisted superfluid.
Multiphoton interband excitations of quantum gases in driven optical lattices
M. Weinberg, C. Ölschläger, C. Sträter, S. Prelle, A. Eckardt, K. Sengstock, J. Simonet
We report on the observation of multiphoton absorption processes for quantum gases in shaken light crystals. Periodic inertial forcing, induced by a spatial motion of the lattice potential, drives multiphoton interband excitations of up to the 9th order. The occurrence of such excitation features is systematically investigated with respect to the potential depth and the driving amplitude. Ab initio calculations of resonance positions as well as numerical evaluation of their strengths exhibit a good agreement with experimental data. In addition our findings set the stage for reaching novel phases of quantum matter by tailoring appropriate driving schemes.
Beyond-mean-field study of a binary bosonic mixture in a state-dependent honeycomb lattice
L. Cao, S. Krönke, J. Stockhofe, J. Simonet, K. Sengstock, D.-S. Lühmann and P. Schmelcher
We investigate a binary mixture of bosonic atoms loaded into a state-dependent honeycomb lattice. For this system, the emergence of a so-called twisted-superfluid ground state was experimentally observed in Soltan-Panahi et al. [Nat. Phys. 8, 71 (2012)]. Theoretically, the origin of this effect is not understood. We perform numerical simulations of an extended single-band Bose-Hubbard model adapted to the experimental parameters employing the multilayer multiconfiguration time-dependent Hartree method for Bosons. Our results confirm the overall applicability of mean-field theory in the relevant parameter range, within the extended single-band Bose-Hubbard model. Beyond this, we provide a detailed analysis of correlation effects correcting the mean-field result. These have the potential to induce asymmetries in single shot time-of-flight measurements, but we find no indication of the patterns characteristic of the twisted superfluid. We comment on the restrictions of our model and possible extensions.
Dimerized Mott insulators in hexagonal optical lattices
We study bosonic atoms in optical honeycomb lattices with anisotropic tunneling and find dimerized Mott insulator (MI) phases with fractional filling. These incompressible insulating phases are characterized by an interaction-driven localization of particles in respect to the individual dimers and large local particle-number fluctuations within the dimers. We calculate the ground-state phase diagrams and the excitation spectra using an accurate cluster mean-field method. The cluster treatment enables us to probe the fundamental excitations of the dimerized MI where the excitation gap is dominated by the intra-dimer tunneling amplitude. This allows the distinction from normal Mott insulating phases gapped by the on-site interaction. In addition, we present analytical results for the phase diagram derived by a higher-order strong-coupling perturbative expansion approach. By computing finite lattices with large diameters the influence of a harmonic confinement is discussed in detail. It is shown that a large fraction of atoms forms the dimerized MI under experimental conditions. The necessary anisotropic tunneling can be realized either by periodic driving of the optical lattice or by engineering directly a dimerized lattice potential. The dimers can be mapped to their antisymmetric states creating a lattice with coupled p-orbitals.
Spin Orbit Coupling in Periodically Driven Optical Lattices
J. Struck, J. Simonet, K. Sengstock
We propose a novel experimental scheme for the emulation of spin-orbit coupling for ultracold, neutral atoms trapped in a one-dimensional lattice. This scheme does not involve near-resonant laser fields, avoiding the heating processes connected to the spontaneous emission of photons.
A time dependent magnetic field gradient periodically drives the atoms, which can lead to complex valued tunnel matrix elements, equivalent to a gauge dependent shift of the dispersion relation for a 1D lattice. For opposite spin states, the dispersion relations are shifted in opposite direction due to the inverted drive for both states. An additional radio-frequency coupling between the spin states leads to a mixing of the spin dispersion relations and a spin-orbit gap in the band structure.
Quantum phases in tunable state-dependent hexagonal optical lattices
D.-S. Lühmann, O. Jürgensen, M. Weinberg, J. Simonet, P. Soltan-Panahi, K. Sengstock
We study the ground-state properties of ultracold bosonic atoms in a state-dependent graphene-like honeycomb optical lattice, where the degeneracy between the two triangular sublattices A and B can be lifted. We discuss the various geometries accessible with this lattice setup and present a novel scheme to control the energy offset with external magnetic fields. The competition of the on-site interaction with the offset energy leads to Mott phases characterized by population imbalances between the sublattices. For the definition of an optimal Hubbard model, we demonstrate a scheme that allows for the efficient computation of Wannier functions. Using a cluster mean-field method, we compute the phase diagrams and provide a universal representation for arbitrary energy offsets. We find good agreement with the experimental data for the superfluid to Mott insulator transition.
Tunable gauge potential for spinless particles in driven lattices
J. Simonet, J. Struck, M. Weinberg, C. Ölschläger, P. Hauke, A. Eckardt, M. Lewenstein, K. Sengstock, P. Windpassinger
We present a universal method to create a tunable, artificial vector gauge potential for neutral particles trapped in an optical lattice. A suitable periodic shaking of the lattice allows to engineer a Peierls phase for the hopping parameters. This scheme thus allows one to address the atomic internal degrees of freedom independently. We experimentally demonstrate the realisation of such artificial potentials in a 1D lattice, which generate ground state superfluids at arbitrary non-zero quasimomentum .
This scheme offers fascinating possibilities to emulate synthetic magnetic fields in 2D lattices. In a triangular lattice, continuously tunable staggered fluxes are realised. Spontaneous symmetry breaking has recently been observed for a π-flux . With the presented scheme, we are now able to study the influence of a small symmetry breaking perturbation.
Engineering Ising-XY spin models in a triangular lattice using tunable artificial gauge fields
J. Struck, M. Weinberg, C. Ölschläger, P. Windpassinger, J. Simonet, K. Sengstock, R. Höppner, P. Hauke, A. Eckardt, M. Lewenstein, L. Mathey
Cluster Gutzwiller method for bosonic lattice systems
A versatile and numerically inexpensive method is presented allowing the accurate calculation of phase diagrams for bosonic lattice models. By treating clusters within the Gutzwiller theory, a surprisingly good description of quantum fluctuations beyond the mean-field theory is achieved approaching quantum Monte Carlo predictions for large clusters. Applying this powerful method to the Bose-Hubbard model, we demonstrate that it yields precise results for the superfluid to Mott-insulator transition in square, honeycomb, and cubic lattices. Due to the exact treatment within a cluster, the method can be effortlessly adapted to more complicated Hamiltonians in the fast progressing field of optical lattice experiments. This includes state- and site-dependent superlattices, large confined atomic systems, and disordered potentials, as well as various types of extended Hubbard models. Furthermore, the approach allows an excellent treatment of systems with arbitrary filling factors. We discuss the perspectives that allow for the computation of large, spatially varying lattices, low-lying excitations, and time evolution.
Non-Abelian gauge fields and topological insulators in shaken optical lattices
P. Hauke, O. Tielemann, A. Celi, C. Ölschläger, J. Simonet, J. Struck, M. Weinberg, P. Windpassinger, K. Sengstock, M. Lewenstein, A. Eckardt
Time-periodic driving offers a low-demanding method to generate artificial gauge fields in optical lattices. We demonstrate that it is a powerful and versatile tool for engineering two-dimensional lattice systems: We show how to tune frustration and how to create and control band touching points like Dirac cones in the shaken kagom\'e lattice. We propose the realization of a topological or a quantum spin Hall insulator in a shaken spin-dependent hexagonal lattice. We describe how strong artificial magnetic fields can be achieved for example in a square lattice by employing superlattice modulation. Finally, exemplified on a shaken spin-dependent square lattice, we develop a method to create strong non-Abelian gauge fields.
Tunable gauge potential for neutral and spinless particles in driven lattices
J. Struck, C. Ölschläger, M. Weinberg, P. Hauke, J. Simonet, A. Eckardt, M. Lewenstein, K. Sengstock, P. Windpassinger
We present a universal method to create a tunable, artificial vector gauge potential for neutral particles trapped in an optical lattice. The necessary Peierls phase of the hopping parameters between neighboring lattice sites is generated by applying a suitable periodic inertial force such that the method does not rely on any internal structure of the particles. We experimentally demonstrate the realization of such artificial potentials, which generate ground state superfluids at arbitrary non-zero quasi-momentum. We furthermore investigate possible implementations of this scheme to create tuneable magnetic fluxes, going towards model systems for strong-field physics.
Quantum phase transition to unconventional multi-orbital superfluidity in optical lattices
P. Soltan-Panahi, D.-S. Lühmann, J. Struck, P. Windpassinger, K. Sengstock
Orbital physics plays a significant role for a vast number of important phenomena in complex condensed matter systems such as high-Tc superconductivity and unconventional magnetism. In contrast, phenomena in superfluids - especially in ultracold quantum gases - are commonly well described by the lowest orbital and a real order parameter. Here, we report on the observation of a novel multi-orbital superfluid phase with a complex order parameter in binary spin mixtures. In this unconventional superfluid, the local phase angle of the complex order parameter is continuously twisted between neighboring lattice sites. The nature of this twisted superfluid quantum phase is an interaction-induced admixture of the p-orbital favored by the graphene-like band structure of the hexagonal optical lattice used in the experiment. We observe a second-order quantum phase transition between the normal superfluid (NSF) and the twisted superfluid phase (TSF) which is accompanied by a symmetry breaking in momentum space. The experimental results are consistent with calculated phase diagrams and reveal fundamentally new aspects of orbital superfluidity in quantum gas mixtures. Our studies might bridge the gap between conventional superfluidity and complex phenomena of orbital physics.