A Metal-like Quantum Gas: A pathbreaking platform for quantum simulation

EurekAlert  June 22, 2020
Electronic properties of condensed matter are often determined by an intricate competition between kinetic energy that aims to overlap and delocalize electronic wave functions across the crystal lattice, and localizing electron-electron interactions. In contrast, the gaseous phase is characterized by valence electrons tightly localized around the ionic atom cores in discrete quantum states with well-defined energies.
A hybrid state of matter is created when a gas of isolated atoms is suddenly excited to a state where electronic wave functions spatially overlap like in a solid. Researchers in Japan created such a hybrid state with overlapping high-lying electronic wave-functions coherently within only 10 picoseconds by ultrafast laser excitation in an artificial micro-crystal of ultracold atoms. The degree of spatial overlap is actively tuned with nearly 50 nanometer precision and accuracy. This opens a new regime of many-body physics…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

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