Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cascaded single-photon emission from the Mollow triplet sidebands of a quantum dot

A. Ulhaq, S. Weiler, S. M. Ulrich, R. Roßbach, M. Jetter & P. Michler

Emission from a resonantly excited quantum emitter is a fascinating research topic within the field of quantum optics and is a useful source for different types of quantum light fields. The resonance spectrum consists of a single spectral line that develops into a triplet above saturation of the quantum emitter
. The three closely spaced photon channels from the resonance fluorescence have different photon statistical signatures. We present a detailed photon statistics analysis of the resonance fluorescence emission triplet from a solid-state-based artificial atom, that is, a semiconductor quantum dot. The photon correlation measurements demonstrate both ‘single’ and ‘cascaded’ photon emission from the Mollow triplet sidebands. The bright and narrow sideband emission (5.9 × 106 photons per second into the first lens) can be conveniently frequency-tuned by laser detuning over 15 times its linewidth (Δv 1.0 GHz). These unique properties make the Mollow triplet sideband emission a valuable light source for quantum light spectroscopy and quantum information applications, for example.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spontaneous coherence in a cold exciton gas

A. A. High, J. R. Leonard, A. T. Hammack, M. M. Fogler, L. V. Butov, A. V. Kavokin, K. L. Campman & A. C. Gossard

If bosonic particles are cooled down below the temperature of quantum degeneracy, they can spontaneously form a coherent state in which individual matter waves synchronize and combine. Spontaneous coherence of matter waves forms the basis of a number of fundamental phenomena in physics, including superconductivity, superfluidity and Bose–Einstein condensation1, 2. Spontaneous coherence is the key characteristic of condensation in momentum space3. Excitons—bound pairs of electrons and holes—form a model system to explore the quantum physics of cold bosons in solids4, 5. Cold exciton gases can be realized in a system of indirect excitons, which can cool down below the temperature of quantum degeneracy owing to their long lifetimes6. Here we report measurements of spontaneous coherence in a gas of indirect excitons. We found that spontaneous coherence of excitons emerges in the region of the macroscopically ordered exciton state7 and in the region of vortices of linear polarization. The coherence length in these regions is much larger than in a classical gas, indicating a coherent state with a much narrower than classical exciton distribution in momentum space, characteristic of a condensate. A pattern of extended spontaneous coherence is correlated with a pattern of spontaneous polarization, revealing the properties of a multicomponent coherent state. We also observed phase singularities in the coherent exciton gas. All these phenomena emerge when the exciton gas is cooled below a few kelvin.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Observation of Quantum Criticality with Ultracold Atoms in Optical Lattices

Xibo Zhang, Chen-Lung Hung, Shih-Kuang Tung, Cheng Chin

Quantum criticality emerges when a many-body system is in the proximity of a continuous phase transition that is driven by quantum fluctuations. In the quantum critical regime, exotic, yet universal properties are anticipated; ultracold atoms provide a clean system to test these predictions. We report the observation of quantum criticality with two-dimensional Bose gases in optical lattices. On the basis of in situ density measurements, we observe scaling behavior of the equation of state at low temperatures, locate the quantum critical point, and constrain the critical exponents. We observe a finite critical entropy per particle that carries a weak dependence on the atomic interaction strength. Our experiment provides a prototypical method to study quantum criticality with ultracold atoms.

Adiabatic Passage with Spin Locking in Tm3+

María Florencia Pascual-Winter, Robert-Christopher Tongning, Romain Lauro, Anne Louchet-Chauvet, Thierry Chanelière, Jean-Louis Le Gouët

In low concentration Tm
3+:YAG, we observe efficient adiabatic rapid passage (ARP) of thulium nuclear spin on very long time scales, with flipping time much longer than T2. Even with an optical oscillator strength as small as a few 108, optical preparation and detection enable us to work on a sample of about 1010 ions. The impurity-doped crystal strongly differs from monoatomic solids where efficient ARP at slow rate was observed in NMR early days. Explanation in terms of isoentropic reversible thermodynamic transformation does not apply in the present experiment. Instead, this feature can be understood as a spin locking effect.

Dynamical Casmir Effect Using SQUIDS

C. M. Wilson, G. Johansson, A. Pourkabirian, M. Simoen, J. R. Johansson, T. Duty, F. Nori & P. Delsing

One of the most surprising predictions of modern quantum theory is that the vacuum of space is not empty. In fact, quantum theory predicts that it teems with virtual particles flitting in and out of existence. Although initially a curiosity, it was quickly realized that these vacuum fluctuations had measurable consequences—for instance, producing the Lamb shift
1 of atomic spectra and modifying the magnetic moment of the electron2. This type of renormalization due to vacuum fluctuations is now central to our understanding of nature. However, these effects provide indirect evidence for the existence of vacuum fluctuations. From early on, it was discussed whether it might be possible to more directly observe the virtual particles that compose the quantum vacuum. Forty years ago, it was suggested3that a mirror undergoing relativistic motion could convert virtual photons into directly observable real photons. The phenomenon, later termed the dynamical Casimir effect4, 5, has not been demonstrated previously. Here we observe the dynamical Casimir effect in a superconducting circuit consisting of a coplanar transmission line with a tunable electrical length. The rate of change of the electrical length can be made very fast (a substantial fraction of the speed of light) by modulating the inductance of a superconducting quantum interference device at high frequencies (>10 gigahertz). In addition to observing the creation of real photons, we detect two-mode squeezing in the emitted radiation, which is a signature of the quantum character of the generation process.

Metastability and Coherence of Repulsive Polarons in a Strongly Interacting Fermi Mixture

Christoph Kohstall, Matteo Zaccanti, Michael Jag, Andreas Trenkwalder, Pietro Massignan, Georg M. Bruun, Florian Schreck, Rudolf Grimm

Ultracold Fermi gases with tuneable interactions represent a unique test bed to explore the many-body physics of strongly interacting quantum systems. In the past decade, experiments have investigated a wealth of intriguing phenomena, and precise measurements of ground-state properties have provided exquisite benchmarks for the development of elaborate theoretical descriptions. Metastable states in Fermi gases with strong repulsive interactions represent an exciting new frontier in the field. The realization of such systems constitutes a major challenge since a strong repulsive interaction in an atomic quantum gas implies the existence of a weakly bound molecular state, which makes the system intrinsically unstable against decay. Here, we exploit radio-frequency spectroscopy to measure the complete excitation spectrum of fermionic 40K impurities resonantly interacting with a Fermi sea of 6Li atoms. In particular, we show that a well-defined quasiparticle exists for strongly repulsive interactions. For this "repulsive polaron" we measure its energy and its lifetime against decay. We also probe its coherence properties by measuring the quasiparticle residue. The results are well described by a theoretical approach that takes into account the finite effective range of the interaction in our system. We find that a non-zero range of the order of the interparticle spacing results in a substantial lifetime increase. This major benefit for the stability of the repulsive branch opens up new perspectives for investigating novel phenomena in metastable, repulsively interacting fermion systems.

Relaxation Dynamics and Pre-thermalization in an Isolated Quantum System

Michael Gring, Maximilian Kuhnert, Tim Langen, Takuya Kitagawa, Bernhard Rauer, Matthias Schreitl, Igor Mazets, David A. Smith, Eugene Demler, Jörg Schmiedmayer

Understanding relaxation processes is an important unsolved problem in many areas of physics. A key challenge in studying such non-equilibrium dynamics is the scarcity of experimental tools for characterizing their complex transient states. We employ measurements of full quantum mechanical probability distributions of matter-wave interference to study the relaxation dynamics of a coherently split one-dimensional Bose gas and obtain unprecedented information about the dynamical states of the system. Following an initial rapid evolution, the full distributions reveal the approach towards a thermal-like steady state characterized by an effective temperature eight times lower than the initial equilibrium temperature of the system before the splitting process. We conjecture that this state can be described through a generalized Gibbs ensemble and associate it with pre-thermalization.

Orbital Excitation Blockade and Algorithmic Cooling in Quantum Gases

Waseem S. Bakr, Philipp M. Preiss, M. Eric Tai, Ruichao Ma, Jonathan Simon & Markus Greiner

Interaction blockade occurs when strong interactions in a confined, few-body system prevent a particle from occupying an otherwise accessible quantum state. Blockade phenomena reveal the underlying granular nature of quantum systems and allow for the detection and manipulation of the constituent particles, be they electrons
1, spins2, atoms3, 4, 5 or photons6. Applications include single-electron transistors based on electronic Coulomb blockade7 and quantum logic gates in Rydberg atoms8, 9. Here we report a form of interaction blockade that occurs when transferring ultracold atoms between orbitals in an optical lattice. We call this orbital excitation blockade (OEB). In this system, atoms at the same lattice site undergo coherent collisions described by a contact interaction whose strength depends strongly on the orbital wavefunctions of the atoms. We induce coherent orbital excitations by modulating the lattice depth, and observe staircase-like excitation behaviour as we cross the interaction-split resonances by tuning the modulation frequency. As an application of OEB, we demonstrate algorithmic cooling10, 11 of quantum gases: a sequence of reversible OEB-based quantum operations isolates the entropy in one part of the system and then an irreversible step removes the entropy from the gas. This technique may make it possible to cool quantum gases to have the ultralow entropies required for quantum simulation12, 13 of strongly correlated electron systems. In addition, the close analogy between OEB and dipole blockade in Rydberg atoms provides a plan for the implementation of two-quantum-bit gates14 in a quantum computing architecture with natural scalability.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Quantum-coherent coupling of a mechanical oscillator to an optical cavity mode

E. Verhagen, S. Deléglise, S. Weis, A. Schliesser & T. J. Kippenberg

Optical laser fields have been widely used to achieve quantum control over the motional and internal degrees of freedom of atoms and ions1, 2, molecules and atomic gases. A route to controlling the quantum states of macroscopic mechanical oscillators in a similar fashion is to exploit the parametric coupling between optical and mechanical degrees of freedom through radiation pressure in suitably engineered optical cavities3, 4, 5, 6. If the optomechanical coupling is ‘quantum coherent’—that is, if the coherent coupling rate exceeds both the optical and the mechanical decoherence rate—quantum states are transferred from the optical field to the mechanical oscillator and vice versa. This transfer allows control of the mechanical oscillator state using the wide range of available quantum optical techniques. So far, however, quantum-coherent coupling of micromechanical oscillators has only been achieved using microwave fields at millikelvin temperatures7, 8. Optical experiments have not attained this regime owing to the large mechanical decoherence rates9 and the difficulty of overcoming optical dissipation10. Here we achieve quantum-coherent coupling between optical photons and a micromechanical oscillator. Simultaneously, coupling to the cold photon bath cools the mechanical oscillator to an average occupancy of 1.7 ± 0.1 motional quanta. Excitation with weak classical light pulses reveals the exchange of energy between the optical light field and the micromechanical oscillator in the time domain at the level of less than one quantum on average. This optomechanical system establishes an efficient quantum interface between mechanical oscillators and optical photons, which can provide decoherence-free transport of quantum states through optical fibres. Our results offer a route towards the use of mechanical oscillators as quantum transducers or in microwave-to-optical quantum links11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

Spin Gradient Demagnetization Cooling of Ultracold Atoms

Patrick Medley, David M. Weld, Hirokazu Miyake, David E. Pritchard, and Wolfgang Ketterle

We demonstrate a new cooling method in which a time-varying magnetic field gradient is applied to an ultracold spin mixture. This enables preparation of isolated spin distributions at positive and negative effective spin temperatures of ±50   pK. The spin system can also be used to cool other degrees of freedom, and we have used this coupling to cool an apparently equilibrated Mott insulator of rubidium atoms to 350 pK. These are the lowest temperatures ever measured in any system. The entropy of the spin mixture is in the regime where magnetic ordering is expected.

Controlling the quantum stereodynamics of ultracold bimolecular reactions

M. H. G. de Miranda, A. Chotia, B. Neyenhuis, D. Wang, G. Quéméner, S. Ospelkaus, J. L. Bohn, J. Ye & D. S. Jin

Molecular collisions in the quantum regime represent a new opportunity to explore chemical reactions. Recently, atom-exchangereactions were observed in a trapped ultracold gas of KRb molecules. In an external electric field, these polar molecules can easily be oriented and the exothermic and barrierless bimolecular reactions, KRb+KRbright arrowK2+Rb2, occur at a rate that rises steeply with increasing dipole moment. Here we demonstrate the suppression of the bimolecular chemical reaction rate by nearly two orders of magnitude when we use an optical lattice trap to confine the fermionic polar molecules in a quasi-two-dimensional, pancake-like geometry, with the dipoles oriented along the tight confinement direction. With the combination of sufficiently tight confinement and Fermi statistics of the molecules, two polar molecules can approach each other only in a ‘side-by-side’ collision under repulsive dipole–dipole interactions. The suppression of chemical reactions is a prerequisite for the realization of new molecule-based quantum systems.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Klein Tunneling of a Quasirelativistic Bose-Einstein Condensate in an Optical Lattice

Tobias Salger, Christopher Grossert, Sebastian Kling, and Martin Weitz

A proof-of-principle experiment simulating effects predicted by relativistic wave equations with ultracold atoms in a bichromatic optical lattice that allows for a tailoring of the dispersion relation is reported. We observe the analog of Klein tunneling, the penetration of relativistic particles through a potential barrier without the exponential damping that is characteristic for nonrelativistic quantum tunneling. Both linear (relativistic) and quadratic (nonrelativistic) dispersion relations are investigated, and significant barrier transmission is observed only for the relativistic case.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Observation of Correlated Particle-Hole Pairs and String Order in Low-Dimensional Mott Insulators

M. Endres, M. Cheneau, T. Fukuhara, C. Weitenberg, P. Schauß, C. Gross, L. Mazza, M. C. Bañuls, L. Pollet, I. Bloch, S. Kuhr

Quantum phases of matter are characterized by the underlying correlations of the many-body system. Although this is typically captured by a local order parameter, it has been shown that a broad class of many-body systems possesses a hidden nonlocal order. In the case of bosonic Mott insulators, the ground state properties are governed by quantum fluctuations in the form of correlated particle-hole pairs that lead to the emergence of a nonlocal string order in one dimension. By using high-resolution imaging of low-dimensional quantum gases in an optical lattice, we directly detect these pairs with single-site and single-particle sensitivity and observe string order in the one-dimensional case.