**SFB 925**Light induced dynamics and control of correlated quantum systems

# Project C9

### 2019

#### Squeezed-field path-integral description of second sound in Bose-Einstein condensates

*Ilias M. H. Seifie, Vijay Pal Singh, and L. Mathey*

We propose a generalization of the Feynman path integral using squeezed coherent states. We apply thisapproach to the dynamics of Bose-Einstein condensates, which gives an effective low-energy descriptionthat contains both a coherent field and a squeezing field. We derive the classical trajectory of this action,which constitutes a generalization of the Gross-Pitaevskii equation, at linear order. We derive the low-energyexcitations, which provides a description of second sound in weakly interacting condensates as a squeezingoscillation of the order parameter. This interpretation is also supported by a comparison to a numerical c-fieldmethod.

### 2018

#### Critical behavior of a chiral superfluid in a bipartite square lattice

*J. Okamoto, W.-M. Huang, R. Höppner and L. Mathey*

We study the critical behavior of Bose–Einstein condensation in the second band of a bipartite optical square lattice in a renormalization group framework at one-loop order. Within our field theoretical representation of the system, we approximate the system as a two-component Bose gas in three dimensions. We demonstrate that the system is in a different universality class than the previously studied condensation in a frustrated triangular lattice due to an additional Umklapp scattering term, which stabilizes the chiral superfluid order at low temperatures. We derive the renormalization group flow of the system and show that this order persists in the low energy limit. Furthermore, the renormalization flow suggests that the phase transition from the thermal phase to the chiral superfluid state is first order.

#### Influence of electron-phonon coupling on the low-temperature phases of metallic single-wall carbon nanotubes

*J. Okamoto, L. Mathey and W.-M. Huang*

We investigate the effect of electron-phonon coupling on low-temperature phases in metallic single-wall carbon nanotubes. We obtain low-temperature phase diagrams of armchair and zigzag type nanotubes with screened interactions with a weak-coupling renormalization group approach. In the absence of electron-phonon coupling, two types of nanotubes have similar phase diagrams. A D-Mott phase or d-wave superconductivity appears when the on-site interaction is dominant, while a charge-density wave or an excitonic insulator phase emerges when the nearest neighbor interaction becomes comparable to the on-site interaction. The electron-phonon coupling, treated by a two-cutoff scaling scheme, leads to different behavior in two types of nanotubes. For strong electron-phonon interactions, phonon softening is induced and a Peierls insulator phase appears in armchair nanotubes. We find that this softening of phonons may occur for any intraband scattering phonon mode. On the other hand, the effect of electron-phonon coupling is negligible for zigzag nanotubes. The distinct behavior of armchair and zigzag nanotubes against lattice distortion is explained by analysis of the renormalization group equations.

#### Light-induced coherence in an atom-cavity system

*C. Georges, J. G. Cosme, L. Mathey, A. Hemmerich*

We demonstrate a light-induced formation of coherence in a cold atomic gas system that utilizes the suppression of a competing density wave (DW) order. The condensed atoms are placed in an optical cavity and pumped by an external optical standing wave, which induces a long-range interaction mediated by photon scattering and a resulting DW order above a critical pump strength. We show that the light-induced temporal modulation of the pump wave can suppress this DW order and restore coherence. This establishes a foundational principle of dynamical control of competing orders analogous to a hypothesized mechanism for light-induced superconductivity in high*-T*_{c} cuprates.

#### Dynamics of Ultracold Quantum Gases in the Dissipative Fermi-Hubbard Model

* K. Sponselee, L. Freystatzky, B. Abeln, M. Diem, B. Hundt, A. Kochanke, T. Ponath, B. Santra, L. Mathey, K. Sengstock and C. Becker*

Abstract. We employ metastable ultracold 173-Yb atoms to study dynamics in the 1D dissipative Fermi-Hubbard model experimentally and theoretically, and observe a complete inhibition of two-body losses after initial fast transient dynamics. We attribute the suppression of particle loss to the dynamical generation of a highly entangled Dicke state. For several lattice depths and for two- and six-spin component mixtures we find very similar dynamics, showing that the creation of strongly correlated states is a robust and universal phenomenon. This offers interesting opportunities for precision measurements.

arXiv:1805.11853 (2018)

https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.11853

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/2058-9565/aadccd/meta

### 2017

#### Fermion pairing in mixed-dimensional atomic mixtures

*Junichi Okamoto,1,2 Ludwig Mathey,1,2 and Wen-Min Huang*

We investigate the quantum phases of mixed-dimensional cold atom mixtures. In particular, we consider a mixture of a Fermi gas in a two-dimensional lattice, interacting with a bulk Fermi gas or a Bose-Einstein condensate in a three-dimensional lattice. The effective interaction of the two-dimensional system mediated by the bulk system is determined. We perform a functional renormalization group analysis, and demonstrate that by tuning the properties of the bulk system, a subtle competition of several superconducting orders can be controlled among *s*−wave, *p*−wave, *d _{x2−y2}*−wave, and

*g*−wave pairing symmetries. Other instabilities such as a charge-density-wave order are also demonstrated to occur. In particular, we find that the critical temperature of the

_{xy(x2−y2)}*d*−wave pairing induced by the next-nearest-neighbor interactions can be an order of magnitude larger than that of the same pairing induced by doping in the simple Hubbard model. We expect that by combining the nearest-neighbor interaction with the next-nearest-neighbor hopping (known to enhance

*d*−wave pairing), an even higher critical temperature may be achieved

#### Dynamic Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in two-dimensional Bose mixtures of ultracold atoms

*L. Mathey, Kenneth J. Günter, Jean Dalibard, and A. Polkovnikov*

We propose a realistic experiment to demonstrate a dynamic Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in ultracold atomic gases in two dimensions. With a numerical implementation of the truncated Wigner approximation we simulate the time evolution of several correlation functions, which can be measured via matter wave interference. We demonstrate that the relaxational dynamics is well described by a real-time renormalization-group approach and argue that these experiments can guide the development of a theoretical framework for the understanding of critical dynamics.

#### Observation of Topological Bloch-State Defects and Their Merging Transition

*Matthias Tarnowski, Marlon Nuske, Nick Fläschner, Benno Rem, Dominik Vogel, Lukas Freystatzky, Klaus Sengstock, Ludwig Mathey, and Christof Weitenberg*

Topological defects in Bloch bands, such as Dirac points in graphene, and their resulting Berry phases play an important role for the electronic dynamics in solid state crystals. Such defects can arise in systems with a two-atomic basis due to the momentum-dependent coupling of the two sublattice states, which gives rise to a pseudospin texture. The topological defects appear as vortices in the azimuthal phase of this pseudospin texture. Here, we demonstrate a complete measurement of the azimuthal phase in a hexagonal optical lattice employing a versatile method based on time-of-flight imaging after off-resonant lattice modulation. Furthermore, we map out the merging transition of the two Dirac points induced by beam imbalance. Our work paves the way to accessing geometric properties in optical lattices also with spin-orbit coupling and interactions.

#### Implementing supersymmetric dynamics in ultracold-atom systems

*M. Lahrz, C. Weitenberg, L. Mathey*

Supersymmetric systems derive their properties from conserved supercharges which form a supersymmetric algebra. These systems naturally factorize into two subsystems, which, when considered as individual systems, have essentially the same eigenenergies, and their eigenstates can be mapped onto each other. We propose a Mach-Zehnder interference experiment to detect supersymmetry in quantum-mechanical systems, which can be realized with current technology. To demonstrate this interferometric technique, we first propose a one-dimensional ultracold-atom setup to realize a pair of supersymmetric systems. Here, a single-atom wave packet evolves in a superposition of the subsystems and gives an interference contrast that is sharply peaked if the subsystems form a supersymmetric pair. Second, we propose a two-dimensional setup that implements supersymmetric dynamics in a synthetic gauge field.

### 2016

#### Emergence in Driven Solid-State and Cold-Atom Systems

*L. Mathey, J. Okamoto*

While phase transitions in equilibrium systems have been studied extensively, the emergence of order in non-equilibrium systems, such as periodically driven systems, continues to pose conceptual questions as well as offer intriguing possibilities. In particular, two recent experimental developments emphasise the urgency of further exploration. A new direction of research is taking place in the field of ultra-cold atoms. In a recent set of experiments, atoms in an optical lattice were subjected to a lattice shaking protocol. With this new feature of ultra-cold atom systems, it has been possible to create effective, renormalised Hamiltonians. In particular, the lattice shaking could be performed in such a manner to create frustrated systems and synthetic gauge fields, see e.g. [1]. A parallel development is taking place in solid state physics. A new research direction was established by using ultrafast light pulses to stabilise superconducting order. Here, the periodic driving was used to achieve a remarkable, counterintuitive result: to enhance superconductivity with high frequency and high intensity driving, see e.g

#### Sudden and slow quenches into the antiferromagnetic phase of ultracold fermions

*M. Ojekhile, R. Höppner, H. Moritz, L. Mathey*

We propose a method to reach the antiferromagnetic state of two-dimensional Fermi gases trapped in optical lattices: Independent subsystems are prepared in suitable initial states and then connected by a sudden or slow quench of the tunneling between the subsystems. Examples of suitable low-entropy subsystems are double wells or plaquettes, which can be experimentally realised in Mott insulating shells using optical super-lattices. We estimate the effective temperature T* of the system after the quench by calculating the distribution of excitations created using the spin wave approximation in a Heisenberg model. We investigate the effect of an initial staggered magnetic field and find that for an optimal polarisation of the initial state the effective temperature can be significantly reduced from T*≈1.7 Tc at zero polarisation to T*<0.65Tc, where Tc is the crossover temperature to the antiferromagnetic state. The temperature can be further reduced using a finite quench time. We also show that T* decreases logarithmically with the linear size of the subsystem.

#### Hierarchical equations of motion approach to transport through an Anderson impurity coupled to interacting Luttinger liquid leads

*Jun-ichi Okamoto, Ludwig Mathey, and Rainer Härtle*

We generalize the hierarchical equations of motion method to study electron transport through a quantum dot or molecule coupled to one-dimensional interacting leads that can be described as Luttinger liquids. Such leads can be realized, for example, by quantum wires or fractional quantum Hall edge states. In comparison to noninteracting metallic leads, Luttinger liquid leads involve many-body correlations and the single-particle tunneling density of states shows a power-law singularity at the chemical potential. Using the generalized hierarchical equations of motion method, we assess the importance of the singularity and the next-to-leading order many-body correlations. To this end, we compare numerically converged results with second- and first-order results of the hybridization expansion that is inherent to our method. As a test case, we study transport through a single-level quantum dot or molecule that can be described by an Anderson impurity model. Cotunneling effects turn out to be most pronounced for attractive interactions in the leads or repulsive ones if an excitonic coupling between the dot and the leads is realized. We also find that an interaction-induced negative differential conductance near the Coulomb blockade thresholds is slightly suppressed as compared to a first-order and/or rate equation result. Moreover, we find that the two-particle (*n*-particle) correlations enter as a second-order (*n*-order) effect and are, thus, not very pronounced at the high temperatures and parameters that we consider.

#### Bose-Einstein condensation in a frustrated triangular optical lattice

*Peter Janzen, Wen-Min Huang, and L. Mathey*

The recent experimental condensation of ultracold atoms in a triangular optical lattice with a negative effective tunneling parameter paves the way for the study of frustrated systems in a controlled environment. Here, we explore the critical behavior of the chiral phase transition in such a frustrated lattice in three dimensions. We represent the low-energy action of the lattice system as a two-component Bose gas corresponding to the two minima of the dispersion. The contact repulsion between the bosons separates into intra- and intercomponent interactions, referred to as V0 and V12, respectively. We first employ a Huang-Yang-Luttinger approximation of the free energy. For V12/V0=2, which corresponds to the bare interaction, this approach suggests a first-order phase transition, at which both the U(1) symmetry of condensation and the Z2 symmetry of the emergent chiral order are broken simultaneously. Furthermore, we perform a renormalization-group calculation at one-loop order. We demonstrate that the coupling regime 0<V12/V0≤1 shares the critical behavior of the Heisenberg fixed point at V12/V0=1. For V12/V0>1 we show that V0 flows to a negative value, while V12 increases and remains positive. This results in a breakdown of the effective quartic-field theory due to a cubic anisotropy and, again, suggests a discontinuous phase transition.

#### Realizing and optimizing an atomtronic SQUID

*A. C. Mathey, L. Mathey*

We demonstrate how a toroidal Bose–Einstein condensate with a movable barrier can be used to realize an atomtronic SQUID. The magnitude of the barrier height, which creates the analogue of an SNS junction, is of crucial importance, as well as its ramp-up and -down protocol. For too low of a barrier, the relaxation of the system is dynamically suppressed, due to the small rate of phase slips at the barrier. For a higher barrier, the phase coherence across the barrier is suppressed due to thermal fluctuations, which are included in our Truncated Wigner approach. Furthermore, we show that the ramp-up protocol of the barrier can be improved by ramping up its height first, and its velocity after that. This protocol can be further improved by optimizing the ramp-up and ramp-down time scales, which is of direct practical relevance for on-going experimental realizations.

#### Probing superfluidity of Bose-Einstein condensates via laser stirring

*Vijay Pal Singh, Wolf Weimer, Kai Morgener, Jonas Siegl, Klaus Hueck, Niclas Luick, Henning Moritz, Ludwig Mathey*

We investigate the superfluid behavior of a Bose-Einstein condensate of 6Li molecules. In the experiment by Weimer et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 095301 (2015) a condensate is stirred by a weak, red-detuned laser beam along a circular path around the trap center. The rate of induced heating increases steeply above a velocity vc, which we define as the critical velocity. Below this velocity, the moving beam creates almost no heating. In this paper, we demonstrate a quantitative understanding of the critical velocity. Using both numerical and analytical methods, we identify the non-zero temperature, the circular motion of the stirrer, and the density profile of the cloud as key factors influencing the magnitude of vc. A direct comparison to the experimental data shows excellent agreement.

Phys. Rev. A 93, 023634 (2016)

http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1509.02168

#### Theory of enhanced interlayer tunneling in optically driven high Tc superconductors

*J. Okamoto, A. Cavalleri, L. Mathey*

Motivated by recent pump-probe experiments indicating enhanced coherent c-axis transport in underdoped YBCO, we study Josephson junctions periodically driven by optical pulses. We propose a mechanism for this observation by demonstrating that a parametrically driven Josephson junction shows an enhanced imaginary part of the low-frequency conductivity when the driving frequency is above the plasma frequency, implying an effectively enhanced Josephson coupling. We generalize this analysis to a bilayer system of Josephson junctions modeling YBCO. Again, the Josephson coupling is enhanced when the pump frequency is blue-detuned to either of the two plasma frequencies of the material. We show that the emergent driven state is a genuine, non-equilibrium superconducting state, in which equilibrium relations between the Josephson coupling, current fluctuations, and the critical current no longer hold.

#### Designing exotic many-body states of atomic spin and motion in photonic crystals

*M. T. Manzoni, L. Mathey, D. E. Chang*

Cold atoms coupled to photonic crystals constitute an exciting platform for exploring quantum many-body physics. Here we investigate the strong coupling between atomic internal ("spin") degrees of freedom and motion, which arises from spin-dependent forces associated with the exchange of guided photons. We show that this system can realize a remarkable and extreme limit of quantum spin-orbital systems, where both the direct spin exchange between neighboring sites and the kinetic energy of the orbital motion vanish. We find that this previously unexplored system has a rich phase diagram of emergent orders, including spatially dimerized spin-entangled pairs, a fluid of composite particles comprised of joint spin-phonon excitations, phonon-induced Neel ordering, and a fractional magnetization plateau associated with trimer formation.

#### Magnus expansion approach to parametric oscillator systems in a thermal bath

*B. Zhu, T. Rexin, L. Mathey*

We develop a Magnus formalism for periodically driven systems which provides an expansion both in the driving term and the inverse driving frequency, applicable to isolated and dissipative systems. We derive explicit formulas for a driving term with a cosine dependence on time, up to fourth order. We apply these to the steady state of a classical parametric oscillator coupled to a thermal bath, which we solve numerically for comparison. Beyond dynamical stabilization at second order, we find that the higher orders further renormalize the oscillator frequency, and additionally create a weakly renormalized effective temperature. The renormalized oscillator frequency is quantitatively accurate almost up to the parametric instability, as we confirm numerically. Additionally, a cut-off dependent term is generated, which indicates the break-down of the hierarchy of time scales of the system, as a precursor to the instability. Finally, we apply this formalism to a parametrically driven chain, as an example for the control of the dispersion of a many-body system.

arXiv:1604.01010

http://arxiv.org/abs/1604.01010

* *

#### Sudden-quench dynamics of Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer states in deep optical lattices

*Marlon Nuske, L. Mathey, Eite Tiesinga*

We determine the exact dynamics of an initial Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) state of ultracold atoms in a deep hexagonal optical lattice. The dynamical evolution is triggered by a quench of the lattice potential such that the interaction strength Uf is much larger than the hopping amplitude Jf. The quench initiates collective oscillations with frequency ∣∣Uf|/2π in the momentum occupation numbers and imprints an oscillating phase with the same frequency on the BCS order parameter Δ. The oscillation frequency of Δ is not reproduced by treating the time evolution in mean-field theory. In our theory, the momentum noise (i.e., density-density) correlation functions oscillate at frequency ∣∣Uf|/2π as well as at its second harmonic. For a very deep lattice, with zero tunneling energy, the oscillations of momentum occupation numbers are undamped. Nonzero tunneling after the quench leads to dephasing of the different momentum modes and a subsequent damping of the oscillations. The damping occurs even for a finite-temperature initial BCS state, but not for a noninteracting Fermi gas. Furthermore, damping is stronger for larger order parameter and may therefore be used as a signature of the BCS state. Finally, our theory shows that the noise correlation functions in a honeycomb lattice will develop strong anticorrelations near the Dirac point.

### 2015

#### Dynamical phase transition in the open Dicke model

*J. Klinder, H. Keßler, M. Wolke, L. Mathey, A. Hemmerich*

The Dicke model with a weak dissipation channel is realized by coupling a Bose–Einstein condensate to an optical cavity with ultranarrow bandwidth. We explore the dynamical critical properties of the Hepp–Lieb–Dicke phase transition by performing quenches across the phase boundary. We observe hysteresis in the transition between a homogeneous phase and a self-organized collective phase with an enclosed loop area showing power-law scaling with respect to the quench time, which suggests an interpretation within a general framework introduced by Kibble and Zurek. The observed hysteretic dynamics is well reproduced by numerically solving the mean-field equation derived from a generalized Dicke Hamiltonian. Our work promotes the understanding of nonequilibrium physics in open many-body systems with infinite range interactions.

#### The critical velocity in the BEC-BCS crossover

* W. Weimer, K. Morgener, V. P. Singh, J. Siegl, K. Hueck, N. Luick, L. Mathey, H. Moritz*

We map out the critical velocity in the crossover from Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) to Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer superfluidity with ultracold 6Li gases. A small attractive potential is dragged along lines of constant column density. The rate of the induced heating increases steeply above a critical velocity vc. In the same samples, we measure the speed of sound vs by exciting density waves and compare the results to the measured values of vc. We perform numerical simulations in the BEC regime and find very good agreement, validating the approach. In the strongly correlated regime, where theoretical predictions only exist for the speed of sound, our measurements of vc provide a testing ground for theoretical approaches.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 095301 (2015)

http://arxiv.org/abs/1408.5239

#### Observation of chiral superfluid order by matter wave interference

* T. Kock, M. Ölschläger, A. Ewerbeck, W.-M. Huang, L. Mathey, A. Hemmerich*

The breaking of time reversal symmetry via the spontaneous formation of chiral order is ubiquitous in nature. Here, we present an unambiguous demonstration of this phenomenon for atoms Bose-Einstein condensed in the second Bloch band of an optical lattice. As a key tool we use a matter wave interference technique, which lets us directly observe the phase properties of the superfluid order parameter and allows us to reconstruct the spatial geometry of certain low energy excitations, associated with the formation of domains of different chirality. Our work marks a new era of optical lattices where orbital degrees of freedom play an essential role for the formation of exotic quantum matter, similarly as in electronic systems.

Physical Review Letters 114, 115301 (2015)

http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.3483

#### Redistribution of phase fluctuations in a periodically driven cuprate superconductor

*R. Höppner, B. Zhu, T. Rexin, A. Cavalleri, and L. Mathey*

We study the thermally fluctuating state of a bilayer cuprate superconductor under the periodic action of a staggered field oscillating at optical frequencies. This analysis distills essential elements of the recently discovered phenomenon of light-enhanced coherence in YBa_{2}Cu_{3}O_{6+x}, which was achieved by periodically driving infrared active apical oxygen distortions. The effect of a staggered periodic perturbation is studied using a Langevin and Fokker-Planck description of driven, coupled Josephson junctions, which represent two neighboring pairs of layers and their two plasmons. In a toy model including only two junctions, we demonstrate that the external driving leads to a suppression of phase fluctuations of the low-energy plasmon, an effect which is amplified via the resonance of the high-energy plasmon. When extending the modeling to the full layers, we find that this reduction becomes far more pronounced, with a striking suppression of the low-energy fluctuations, as visible in the power spectrum. We also find that this effect acts on the in-plane fluctuations, which are reduced on long length scales. All these findings provide a physical framework to describe light control in cuprates.

### 2014

#### Noise correlations of two-dimensional Bose gases

*V. P. Singh, L. Mathey*

We analyze density-density correlations of expanding clouds of weakly interacting two-dimensional Bose gases below and above the Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition, with particular focus on short-time expansions. During time-of-flight expansion, phase fluctuations of the trapped system translate into density fluctuations, in addition to the density fluctuations that exist in situ. We calculate the correlations of these fluctuations both in real space and in momentum space and derive analytic expressions in momentum space. Below the transition, the correlation functions show an oscillatory behavior, controlled by the scaling exponent of the quasicondensed phase, due to constructive interference. We argue that this can be used to extract the scaling exponent of the quasicondensate experimentally. Above the transition, the interference is rapidly suppressed when the atoms travel an average distance beyond the correlation length. This can be used to distinguish the two phases qualitatively.

### 2013

#### Quantum Phases of quadrupolar Fermi gases in optical lattices

*S. G. Bhongale, L. Mathey, E. Zhao, S. F. Yelin, M. Lemeshko*

We introduce a new platform for quantum simulation of many-body systems based on non-spherical particles with zero dipole moment but possessing a significant value of the electric quadrupole moment. Considering a quadrupolar quantum gas trapped in a 2D optical lattice, we show that the peculiar symmetry and broad tunability of the quadrupole-quadrupole interactions results in a rich phase diagram encompassing unconventional BCS and charge density wave phases, and paves the way to create topological superfluid ground states of px + i py symmetry. Quadrupolar species, such as metastable alkaline-earth atoms and homonuclear molecules, are stable against chemical reactions and collapse and are readily available in experiment at high densities.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 155301 (2013)

http://arxiv.org/abs/1211.3317

### 2012

#### Unconventional Spin Density Waves in Dipolar Fermi Gases

*S. G. Bhongale, L. Mathey, S. Tsai, C. W. Clark, E. Zhao*

The conventional spin density wave (SDW) phase (Overhauser, 1962), as found in antiferromagnetic metal for example (Fawcett 1988), can be described as a condensate of particle-hole pairs with zero angular momentum, $\ell=0$, analogous to a condensate of particle-particle pairs in conventional superconductors. While many unconventional superconductors with Cooper pairs of finite $\ell$ have been discovered, their counterparts, density waves with non-zero angular momenta, have only been hypothesized in two-dimensional electron systems (Nayak, 2000). Using an unbiased functional renormalization group analysis, we here show that spin-triplet particle-hole condensates with $\ell=1$ emerge generically in dipolar Fermi gases of atoms (Lu, Burdick, and Lev, 2012) or molecules (Ospelkaus et al., 2008; Wu et al.) on optical lattice. The order parameter of these exotic SDWs is a vector quantity in spin space, and, moreover, is defined on lattice bonds rather than on lattice sites. We determine the rich quantum phase diagram of dipolar fermions at half-filling as a function of the dipolar orientation, and discuss how these SDWs arise amidst competition with superfluid and charge density wave phases.

Phys. Rev. A 87, 043604 (2012)

http://arxiv.org/abs/1209.2671

#### Decay of a superfluid current of ultra-cold atoms in a toroidal trap

*Amy C. Mathey, Charles W. Clark, L. Mathey*

Using a numerical implementation of the truncated Wigner approximation, we simulate the experiment reported by Ramanathan et al. in Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 130401 (2011), in which a Bose-Einstein condensate is created in a toroidal trap and set into rotation via a Gauss-Laguerre beam. A potential barrier is then placed in the trap to study the decay of the superflow. We find that the current decays via thermally activated phase slips, which can also be visualized as vortices crossing the barrier region in radial direction. Adopting the notion of critical velocity used in the experiment, we determine it to be lower than the local speed of sound at the barrier. This result is in agreement with the experimental findings, but in contradiction to the predictions of the Gross-Pitaevskii equation. This emphasizes the importance of thermal fluctuations in the experiment.