Physics

Atoms Modeling Electrons

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Science  21 Jul 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5785, pp. 274-275
DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5785.274d

Correlated electron systems such as Mott insulators and high-temperature superconductors are generally difficult to model, primarily because of the mathematical challenge of accurately accounting for interactions between neighboring electrons. Moreover, experimental approaches toward uncovering the underlying physics of such systems are hindered by structural, compositional, and chemical boundaries that limit the parameter space over which the materials can be prepared.

Trebst et al. present an artificial model system that uses cold atoms confined to an optical lattice to mimic the behavior of correlated electron systems. Their numerical simulations controllably vary the depth and geometry of the confining potential lattice, as well as the loading of each lattice site with cold atoms of appropriately chosen properties such as spin. By doing so, they are able to reproduce signature properties of high-temperature superconductors, such as resonating valence bonds and d-wave symmetry. The authors suggest that the technique should be further applicable to other correlated electron systems as a tunable test bed. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 250402 (2006).

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