Research Article

String patterns in the doped Hubbard model

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Science  19 Jul 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6450, pp. 251-256
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav3587

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Looking for patterns in an optical lattice

One of the simplest models of interacting fermions on a two-dimensional (2D) lattice—the Hubbard model—becomes too tricky to simulate on classical computers as the density of empty lattice sites (holes) increases. Chiu et al. used a quantum microscope to take snapshots of thousands of realizations of the 2D Hubbard model in an optical lattice filled with fermionic lithium atoms at varying hole densities (see the Perspective by Schauss). The authors used pattern recognition algorithms to analyze the images, in which each lattice site was individually resolved. Comparing these patterns to the predictions of several theoretical models, they found the most consistency with the so-called geometric string model.

Science, this issue p. 251; see also p. 218


Understanding strongly correlated quantum many-body states is one of the most difficult challenges in modern physics. For example, there remain fundamental open questions on the phase diagram of the Hubbard model, which describes strongly correlated electrons in solids. In this work, we realize the Hubbard Hamiltonian and search for specific patterns within the individual images of many realizations of strongly correlated ultracold fermions in an optical lattice. Upon doping a cold-atom antiferromagnet, we find consistency with geometric strings, entities that may explain the relationship between hole motion and spin order, in both pattern-based and conventional observables. Our results demonstrate the potential for pattern recognition to provide key insights into cold-atom quantum many-body systems.

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