Time-resolved observation of spin-charge deconfinement in fermionic Hubbard chains

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Science  10 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6474, pp. 186-189
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay2354

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Spin and charge go their separate ways

Strongly interacting chains of fermions are predicted to exhibit two types of collective excitations: spinons, which carry only spin, and holons, which carry only charge. These excitations move at different velocities. Signatures of this so-called spin-charge separation have been observed in solid-state systems, but obtaining direct dynamical evidence is tricky. With this goal in mind, Vijayan et al. perturbed a chain of ultracold interacting fermions housed in a one-dimensional optical lattice by removing one of the atoms. This gave rise to two independent excitations, which the researchers identified as spinons and holons using a quantum gas microscope.

Science, this issue p. 186


Elementary particles carry several quantum numbers, such as charge and spin. However, in an ensemble of strongly interacting particles, the emerging degrees of freedom can fundamentally differ from those of the individual constituents. For example, one-dimensional systems are described by independent quasiparticles carrying either spin (spinon) or charge (holon). Here, we report on the dynamical deconfinement of spin and charge excitations in real space after the removal of a particle in Fermi-Hubbard chains of ultracold atoms. Using space- and time-resolved quantum gas microscopy, we tracked the evolution of the excitations through their signatures in spin and charge correlations. By evaluating multipoint correlators, we quantified the spatial separation of the excitations in the context of fractionalization into single spinons and holons at finite temperatures.

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