Research Article

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

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Science  19 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6203, pp. 1467-1473
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254978

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Studying magnetism with cold atoms

Physicists have used cold atomic gases to simulate quantum phenomena that we normally associate with much more complex systems, such as solid-state materials. Because the properties of these gases are so tunable, it is also possible to create conditions that otherwise do not exist in nature. Zhang et al. studied an exotic type of magnetism in an array of pancake-shaped atomic clouds of 87Sr. They prepared the atoms' nuclei in different combinations of 10 quantum states. They then shone pulses of light at the atoms to deduce the properties of the atoms' interactions. The interactions were independent of the atoms' nuclear states—a hallmark of an unusual symmetry that theorists predict may lead to interesting collective effects.

Science, this issue p. 1467