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Title:Non-equilibrium dynamics of ultracold atoms in optical lattices
Author(s):Chen, David
Director of Research:DeMarco, Brian
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kwiat, Paul
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cooper, Lance; Vishveshwara, Smitha
Department / Program:Physics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):optical lattices
ultracold atoms
atomic physics
quantum quench
band decay
strongly correlated
Abstract:This thesis describes experiments focused on investigating out-of-equilibrium phenomena in the Bose-Hubbard Model and exploring novel cooling techniques for ultracold gases in optical lattices. In the first experiment, we study quenches across the Mott-insulator-to-superfluid quantum phase transition in the 3D Bose-Hubbard Model. The quench is accomplished by continuously tuning the ratio of the Hubbard energies. We observe that the degree of excitation is proportional to the fraction of atoms that cross the phase boundary, and that the amount of excitations and energy produced during the quench have a power-law dependence on the quench rate. These phenomena suggest an excitation process analogous to the mechanism for defect generation in non-equilibrium classical phase transitions. This experiment constitutes the first observation of the Kibble-Zurek mechanism in a quantum quench. We have reported our findings in Ref. [1]. In a second experiment, published in Ref. [2], we investigate dissipation as a method for cooling a strongly interacting gas. We introduce dissipation via a bosonic reservoir to a strongly interacting bosonic gas in the Mott-insulator regime of a 3D spin-dependent optical lattice. The lattice atoms are excited to a higher energy band using laser-induced Bragg transitions. A weakly interacting superfluid comprised of atoms in a state that does not experience the lattice potential acts as a dissipative bath that interacts with the lattice atoms through collisions. We measure the resulting bath-induced decay using the atomic quasimomentum distribution, and we compare the decay rate with predictions from a weakly interacting model with no free parameters. A competing intrinsic decay mechanism arising from collisions between lattice atoms is also investigated. The presence of intrinsic decay can not be accommodated within a non-interacting framework and signals that strong interactions may play a central role in the lattice-atom dynamics. The intrinsic decay process we observe may negatively impact the success of cooling via dissipation because a fraction of intrinsic decay events can deposit a large amount of energy into the lattice gas. In a third experiment, we develop and carry out the first demonstration of cooling an atomic quasimomentum distribution. Our scheme, applied in a proof-of-principle experiment to 3D Bose-Hubbard gas in the superfluid regime, involves quasimomentum-selective Raman transitions. This experiment is motivated by the search of new cooling techniques for lattice-trapped gases. Efficient cooling exceeding heating rates is achieved by iteratively removing high quasimomentum atoms from the lattice. Quasimomentum equilibration, which is necessary for cooling, is investigated by directly measuring rethermalization rates after bringing the quasimomentum distribution of the gas out of equilibrium. The measured relaxation rate is consistent at high lattice depths with a short-range, two-particle scattering model without free parameters, despite an apparent violation of the Mott-Ioffe-Regel bound. Our results may have implications for models of unusual transport phenomena in materials with strong interactions, such as heavy fermion materials and transition metal oxides. The cooling method we have developed is applicable to any species, including fermionic atoms. Our results are available in Ref. [3]
Issue Date:2015-07-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 David Chen
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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