Physics

A Semisynthetic Lattice

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Science  14 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6172, pp. 711
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6172.711-b

Atomic vapors at very low temperatures are useful for the quantum simulation of solid-state systems, because their properties can be finely controlled and tuned. These neutral atoms are not, however, completely analogous to the charged carriers in solids; for instance, an external magnetic field causes electrons to move in circular orbits but has no such effects on neutral atoms. Celi et al. propose a simple method for creating a uniform magnetic flux in a one-dimensional (1D) optical lattice that, if realized, might be used to observe exotic phenomena such as Hofstadter-butterfly–like fractal spectra or the dynamics of topological edge states. The method is based on synthetically extending the 1D lattice into the second dimension of internal atomic states (spin) by coupling those states using a pair of Raman laser beams that are directed at an angle with respect to the optical lattice; the required amount of the Raman laser light is substantially smaller than in existing schemes. The resulting band structure supports edge states in the spin variable whose dynamics should be observable through spin-sensitive density measurements.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 043001 (2014).

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