Quantum Simulation of Frustrated Classical Magnetism in Triangular Optical Lattices

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Science  21 Jul 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207239


Magnetism plays a key role in modern technology and stimulates research in several branches of condensed matter physics. Although the theory of classical magnetism is well developed, the demonstration of a widely tunable experimental system has remained an elusive goal. We present the realization of a large-scale simulator for classical magnetism on a triangular lattice by exploiting the particular properties of a quantum system. We use the motional degrees of freedom of atoms trapped in an optical lattice to simulate a large variety of magnetic phases: ferromagnetic, antiferromagnetic, and even frustrated spin configurations. A rich phase diagram is revealed with different types of phase transitions. Our results provide a route to study highly debated phases like spin-liquids as well as the dynamics of quantum phase transitions.