Research Article

Observation of a symmetry-protected topological phase of interacting bosons with Rydberg atoms

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Science  23 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6455, pp. 775-780
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9105

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An interacting topological phase

Most topologically nontrivial systems discovered to date consist of noninteracting particles. Their properties can therefore be explained within a single-particle picture. De Léséleuc et al. engineered a topological phase of bosonic atoms in which interactions play a crucial role. The atoms, which were in highly excited Rydberg states, were held in an array of optical tweezers. Depending on the spatial arrangement of the tweezers, the dipole-dipole interactions between the atoms gave rise to two configurations with different topological properties.

Science, this issue p. 775


The concept of topological phases is a powerful framework for characterizing ground states of quantum many-body systems that goes beyond the paradigm of symmetry breaking. Topological phases can appear in condensed-matter systems naturally, whereas the implementation and study of such quantum many-body ground states in artificial matter require careful engineering. Here, we report the experimental realization of a symmetry-protected topological phase of interacting bosons in a one-dimensional lattice and demonstrate a robust ground state degeneracy attributed to protected zero-energy edge states. The experimental setup is based on atoms trapped in an array of optical tweezers and excited into Rydberg levels, which gives rise to hard-core bosons with an effective hopping generated by dipolar exchange interaction.

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