A Quantum Many-Body Spin System in an Optical Lattice Clock

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Science  09 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6146, pp. 632-636
DOI: 10.1126/science.1236929

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Strongly Correlated Clocks

Optical lattice clocks with alkaline earth atoms provide one of the most stable time-keeping systems. Such clocks, in general, exhibit shifts in their transition frequencies as a consequence of interactions between atoms. Can this sensitivity be used to explore the dynamics of strongly correlated quantum systems? Martin et al. (p. 632) used a 1-dimensional optical lattice clock to study quantum many-body effects. Whereas the clock shift itself could be modeled within the mean field approximation, quantities such as spin noise required a full many-body treatment. This system may be useful for the quantum simulation of exotic magnetism.


Strongly interacting quantum many-body systems arise in many areas of physics, but their complexity generally precludes exact solutions to their dynamics. We explored a strongly interacting two-level system formed by the clock states in 87Sr as a laboratory for the study of quantum many-body effects. Our collective spin measurements reveal signatures of the development of many-body correlations during the dynamical evolution. We derived a many-body Hamiltonian that describes the experimental observation of atomic spin coherence decay, density-dependent frequency shifts, severely distorted lineshapes, and correlated spin noise. These investigations open the door to further explorations of quantum many-body effects and entanglement through use of highly coherent and precisely controlled optical lattice clocks.

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