Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A “pin ball machine” for atoms and photons

16.04.2015

A team of physicists from MPQ, Caltech, and ICFO proposes the combination of nano-photonics with ultracold atoms for simulating quantum many-body systems and creating new states of matter.

Ultracold atoms in the so-called optical lattices, that are generated by crosswise superposition of laser beams, have been proven to be one of the most promising tools for simulating and understanding the behaviour of many-body systems such as solid crystals – for example with respect to their electric or magnetic properties.


Figure: Illustration of the dielectric nano-photonic lattice for trapping atoms and making them interact. (Graphic: MPQ, Theory Division)

However, the implementation in free space has some limitations such as the distance between the atoms (around 400 nm) and the short range of the interactions. Now a team of theorists around Prof. Ignacio Cirac (MPQ, Garching) and Prof. Jeff Kimble (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA) suggests a new set-up that integrates the advantages of ultracold atomic physics and nano-photonics to circumvent these limitations predicting lattice constants about ten times smaller than in a free space optical lattices and the possibility to mediate longer range interactions (Nature Photonics, AOP, 6 April 2015).

The authors use the opportunities provided by nano-engineered dielectrics, the so-called Photonic Crystals, to study both how to trap the atoms closer to each other and make them interact through the guided modes in the structure. As a consequence, the energy scales of the system are increased as well as the range of the interactions, being able to explore new forms of quantum many-body matter.

The basic idea is to take a thin dielectric slab the refractive index of which gets periodically modulated by either drilling holes or installing little cylindrical posts in a grid-wise pattern. By using a combination between optical and vacuum forces, the authors show how to make lattices with up to 50 nm, around ten times smaller than for optical lattices.

“With these subwavelength lattices we can investigate about the same quantum many-body phenomena as in free space optical lattices,” explains Dr. Alejandro González-Tudela, a scientist in the Theory Division of Prof. Cirac and first author of the publication. “But the difference and advantage of our proposed scheme is that the atoms are much closer to each other. That way we achieve higher tunneling rates and interaction energies for simulations of quantum many-body systems. And this implies that we can relax the cooling requirements of the atoms.”

But it is not only the smaller scale of the lattice which provides the possibility to do new kinds of physics. The geometry of the two-dimensional thin dielectric layer allows trapping and guiding the light that falls onto the slab. So an incoming photon interacts strongly with an atom, and then it bounces off. But it does not fly into space: the photon propagates through the waveguide and finds another atom to interact with, and then it goes to the next one and interacts.

“Our analysis show that we should be able to achieve atom-atom-interactions, where the interaction mechanism is not by atom hopping (as in free space optical lattices) but by exchange of photons”, Alejandro González-Tudela says. “The result is a two-dimensional solid where the atoms are held together and talk to each other not by phonons – as in regular matter – but by photons. This implies a qualitatively new domain for light-matter interactions, with the capability to ‘design’ the strength and the range of the interactions. We would gain access to a rich set of phenomena, including, for example, quantum magnetism or spin-spin-interactions mediated by photons. Olivia Meyer-Streng

Original Publication:
A. González-Tudela, C.-L. Hung, D. E. Chang, J. I. Cirac, and H. J. Kimble
Subwavelength vacuum lattices and atom-atom interactions in photonic crystals
Nature Photonics, 6 April 2015, Advanced Online Publication

Contact:

Prof. Dr. J. Ignacio Cirac
Honorary Professor TU München and
Director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Hans-Kopfermann-Str. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 32 905 -705/-736 / Fax: -336
E-mail: ignacio.cirac@mpq.mpg.de

Dr. Alejandro González-Tudela
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Hans-Kopfermann-Str. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 32 905 -127
E-mail: alejandro.gonzalez-tudela@mpq.mpg.de

Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng
Press & Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 32 905 -213
E-mail: olivia.meyer-streng@mpq.mpg.de

Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
Further information:
http://www.mpq.mpg.de/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light
23.10.2017 | Chalmers University of Technology

nachricht Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons
23.10.2017 | Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>