Toward an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory | 8/14/2019 | Staff
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The lattice potential consists of individual dimers. The lattice position is sinusoidally modulated in one direction at two frequencies (purple and orange arrows). Depending in the occupancy in the lattice, atoms can pick up a phase (green arrows) in a density-assisted tunnelling process (brown arrow), compared to a single-particle hopping process (blue arrow). Credit: Figure adapted from Görg et al., doi: 10.1038/s41567-019-0615-4, Nat. Phys. (2019).

Physicists at ETH Zurich have developed a new approach to couple quantized gauge fields to ultracold matter. The method might be the basis for a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics.

Interaction - Fields - Matter - Theme - Physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the gravitational field of others or the motion of an electron in a magnetic field are extremely well understood, and predictions can be made with astonishing accuracy. However, when the quantum character of the particles and fields involved has to be factored in explicitly, then the situation quickly becomes complex. And if, in addition, the field depends on the state of the particles evolving in it, then calculations can shift out of reach even for today's most powerful computers.

The limitations of exploring regimes of dynamical interaction between fields and matter hinder progress in areas ranging from condensed-matter physics to high-energy physics. But there is an alternative approach: Instead of calculating the dynamics, simulate them. Famously, for planetary systems, mechanical models known as orreries were built long before digital computers were developed. In recent years, researchers have developed so-called quantum simulators in which the unknown dynamics of one quantum system are emulated using another, more controllable one. As they report today in the journal Nature Physics, Frederik Görg and colleagues in the group of Tilman Esslinger in the...
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