Physics

Complex Quantum Simulation

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Science  01 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6025, pp. 15
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6025.15-c

Interactions between the charge, spin, and orbital degrees of freedom of electrons in condensed-matter systems can give rise to many complex electronic and magnetic phases. The narrow, or often fixed, range of variable materials parameters can be a limitation in probing and understanding the evolution of the order parameters of such complex correlated systems. An array of atoms trapped in an optical lattice has the potential to be extremely flexible in terms of tuning the parameters. Although the atoms tend to be isotropic, leading to somewhat trivial systems, much theoretical work has explored the possibilities of finding ways to imprint and detect more complicated order parameters on the lattice of trapped atoms. It is along such lines that Kitagawa et al. propose a spectroscopic technique based on two-particle interferometry that probes the phase-sensitive correlations between atom-atom interactions across the lattice. They show that the technique should allow the measurement of nontrivial order parameters in entangled ensembles of cold atoms, such as d- or p-wave pairing of electrons found in exotic superconductors and superfluids, and the realization of cold-atom systems that function as complex quantum simulators.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 115302 (2011).

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