Simulating Charged Particles with Ultracold Neutral Atoms
July 13th, 2021 LETICIA TARRUELL Ultracold Quantum Gases

In the past decades it has become possible to cool down atomic gases which are about a million times thinner than air to temperatures about a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. In these conditions quantum mechanical effects become essential: the atoms behave as matter waves which interfere, interact and can form very exotic states of matter such as superfluids, superconductors, supersolids, etc. Moreover, because ultracold atoms can be extremely well controlled using atomic-light interactions, they can be used to engineer a broad range of model Hamiltonians of relevance in different fields of physics, from condensed matter to high energy physics.

In my talk, I will introduce this field of research and explain how ultracold quantum gases can be used as quantum simulators – special purpose quantum computers - to explore open questions in quantum many-body physics. I will also present one of our current research directions: the engineering of artificial gauge fields for ultracold atoms. I will show how, by coupling different internal states of the atoms with lasers, we can make them behave as charged particles, and observe physics akin to the integer and fractional quantum Hall effects in this setting.

Attendance is mandatory