Collective quantum effects in ultracold atomic gases - Lindsay LeBlanc

Ultracold quantum gases offer an unprecedented opportunity for exploring the behaviour of many-body systems using precise control over the atoms’ temperature, interactions, potential energy landscapes, and internal quantum degrees of freedom. In our quantum simulation experiments, we use ultracold gases of rubidium and potassium atoms to study analogies to condensed matter phenomena. One particular interest in these experiments is to combine laser techniques that mimic “spin-orbit coupling” with techniques that tune the interparticle interactions. Here, it is predicted that competition between magnetic-like and superfluid-like many-body orders should exist; we plan to explore the nature of this many-body collectivity and its dynamics. In a second set of experiments, we are developing hybridized ultracold quantum gases with nanoscale optical and mechanical devices to exploit the best features of each — long coherence times of atoms, and integrability of solid state devices with conventional computational architectures. Our first experiments will hybridize, via the magnetic field interaction, nanomagnetic mechanical oscillators to rubidium atoms. By understanding the oscillator’s effect on the atoms, and the atoms’ effect on the oscillator, we are working towards transferring quantum coherence between systems. Through all of these experiments, a overarching question pervades: how do many-particle systems exhibit quantum effects, and how can we exploit these phenomena on ever large scales?