Microscopy of interacting quantum systems
CitationTai, Ming Eric. 2017. Microscopy of interacting quantum systems. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractUltracold quantum gases in optical lattices provide a rich experimental toolbox for simulating the physics of condensed matter systems. With atoms in the lattice playing the role of electrons or Cooper pairs in real materials, it is possible to experimentally realize condensed matter Hamiltonians in a controlled way. To realize the full potential of such quantum simulations, we leverage a quantum gas microscope which can spatially resolve the atoms in the optical lattice at the single site level and project arbitrary potential landscapes onto the atoms by combining the high resolution optics with static holographic masks or a spatial light modulator. The versatility of this system allows for a wide range of studies. In this thesis, we focus on three experiments that highlight the utility of a tunable platform and demonstrate the richness of physics that comes with interactions.
In the first, we observe on-site interparticle interactions introduce a non-linearity into the many-body energy spectrum of a harmonic oscillator. The excitation of a single atom into a higher band induces an energy shift in the excitation energy for the second atom, blockading the orbital excitation. We demonstrate a technique for deterministic number filtering based upon orbital excitation blockade. When applied to a high temperature Mott insulator, this number filtering realizes a form of algorithmic cooling, which can be used for initializing a large quantum register or creating low entropy initial states for many-body simulation.
In the second, we study the applicability of statistical physics in an isolated system governed by quantum mechanics. While the descriptive power of these two fields has been confirmed through repeated and varied empirical studies, their underlying axioms of entropy maximization and unitary evolution appear mutually exclusive. With our quantum gas microscope, we have the ability to probe local observables such as the on-site number statistics as well as measure the quantum mechanical purity through interference operations. With these capabilities, we are able to observe the local thermalization of a manifestly quantum mechanically pure many-body system.
In the last chapter, we report on the first cold atoms studies of an interacting system under an artificial gauge field. We consider the propagation of a pair of atoms in a $2\times N$ ladder governed by the Harper-Hofstadter model. The eigenstates of this system include both scattering states, which can exhibit chiral propagation, and bound states. A superexchange energy shift in our initial state leads to imbalanced population in the two chiral scattering sectors, leading to chiral propagation dynamics. This effect is the result of both the presence of interactions and the artificial gauge fields. These two components are essential ingredients for fractional quantum Hall physics. Moreover, the dynamic tunable gauge field we develop and the control afforded by a quantum gas microscope make this platform well-suited for future studies in this regime.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41140228
- FAS Theses and Dissertations