Research Article

Spectroscopic observation of SU(N)-symmetric interactions in Sr orbital magnetism

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Science  21 Aug 2014:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254978

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SU(N) symmetry can emerge in a quantum system with N single-particle spin states when spin is decoupled from inter-particle interactions. Here, we report a spectroscopic observation of SU(N ≤ 10) symmetry in 87Sr taking advantage of the high measurement precision offered by an ultra-stable laser. By encoding the electronic orbital degree of freedom in two clock states, while keeping the system open to as many as 10 nuclear spin sublevels, we probe the non-equilibrium two-orbital SU(N) magnetism via Ramsey spectroscopy of atoms confined in an array of two-dimensional optical traps. We study the spin-orbital quantum dynamics and determine the relevant interaction parameters. This work lays the groundwork for using alkaline-earth atoms as test-beds for important orbital models.

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